Chain | Cohn | Clark files wrongful death lawsuit in case of boy who died after collapsing at Delano school

November 17, 2015 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | At the Firm , Cases , News & Media

Chain | Cohn | Clark files wrongful death lawsuit in case of boy who died after collapsing at Delano school

Chain | Cohn | Clark has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 13-year-old Jose Manuel Beltran, who died after collapsing in January in a Delano school gymnasium.

Jose collapsed while running sprints in physical education class in Cecil Avenue Middle School’s gymnasium. After he collapsed, school employees failed to provide and summon medical attention to Jose, including performing CPR or other life-saving procedures. When paramedics finally arrived on scene, Jose was taken to Delano Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Wrongful death attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat – joined by Jose’s parents, Livia Salas and Jose Beltran – held a press conference recently to discuss the filing of the lawsuit and the circumstances surrounding Jose’s tragic death.

“This tragedy should concern all parents of school-age children,” Clark said. “Every parent expects that if their child has a medical emergency at school, emergency medical treatment will be summoned immediately. It is also not unreasonable for parents to expect that P.E. teachers be trained in CPR and provide it when necessary.”


Jose Beltran collapsed on the morning of Jan. 26 in a physical education class at Cecil Avenue Middle School in Delano. Delano police dispatchers received a 911 call that morning, via Canada, and seconds later was transferred to the Kern County Fire Department’s emergency communications center, according to findings first reported by The Bakersfield Californian.

According to the police reports, district nurse Sylvia Clines was at another school campus when Jose collapsed, and had missed a call from Cecil Avenue clerk Estefania Guzman. When Clines called back, Guzman told her a student in the school gym appeared to be suffering from a seizure. At that point, Clines told Guzman to call 911. Another call then came in from P.E. teacher Jessica Ramirez, who told Clines that Jose was not breathing.

When Clines arrived on the Cecil Avenue campus at about 9:30 a.m., she found Jose face down on the floor. This indicates that Jose lay unconscious on the floor for some minutes without CPR being administered.

Jose’s cause of death was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick or enlarged, which can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. The condition often goes undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few, if any, symptoms. Immediate medical attention is vital for those who experience cardiac arrest.


Defendants in the suit are the Delano Union School District and five of its employees, as well of the City of Delano, County of Kern and State of California in an effort to determine which agency is responsible for routing the call to Canada, and therefore delaying treatment for Jose.

After Jose’s death, his parents attempted on several occasions to obtain information from school administrators and Delano Police Department about exactly what happened with their son following his collapse, but were stonewalled and advised to retain an attorney.

Several questions remain for the moment, but the filing of the lawsuit will allow Chain | Cohn | Clark to get the answers, including whether teachers in the gym were CPR-certified, when the 911 call was made, how much time elapsed between Jose’s collapse and the 911 call, and why the call was routed to Canada, among others.

At the recent press conference, Jose’s parents described him as a shy and studious teenager who enjoyed playing video games and sports, and never caused any trouble. He leaves behind two younger siblings.

To see complete coverage of the press conference and news of the filing of the lawsuit, click the links below.