GBW Attorneys Attain $12M Verdict Against Bel-Air Bay Club for Wrongful Death of Philanthropist

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A Santa Monica jury rendered a $12 million verdict to Katherine “Kitty” Keck, the mother of 48-year-old William M. Keck III who suffered from fatal heat exhaustion at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades.

Keck III died from a heart arrhythmia caused by elevated potassium due to heat exhaustion on September 3, 2017.  His mother sued the Bel-Air Bay Club claiming the staff failed to call 911 or administer proper first aid for over three hours after Keck began showing signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“Safety was a big factor that was ignored and my son would still be alive if someone had just called for help,” said Kitty Keck. “It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

During the two-week trial, Keck’s attorneys argued the club employees owed a duty of care to Keck to recognize his symptoms, his worsening condition, and to get him medical aid sooner.

“This case was about the stunning lack of training and negligence that caused a tragic death that could have been prevented,” said lead plaintiff attorney Bruce Broillet. “We hope this verdict sends a message to other athletic facilities and clubs to take heat exhaustion seriously.”

Keck III had been playing paddle tennis at a tournament on a hot and humid day. Around 1:30 pm he started cramping and asked a locker room attendant to massage his calf.  The cramps persisted and worsened over the next few hours while the locker room attendant continued to massage Keck III. The cramping spread and he continued to sweat in the hot and humid locker room in spite of receiving water and Gatorade. No one from the Club called 911 until he started having difficulty breathing at 4:57 p.m. The paramedics arrived four minutes later to find Keck turning blue. The Club had procedures requiring a call to 911 for heat exhaustion that were not followed for more than three hours. Keck III died at the hospital at 5:56 pm.

Keck III is the son of the late William M. Keck II. He was a commercial real estate broker and on the board of the W.M. Keck Foundation and the William M. Keck Jr. Foundation. The W.M. Keck Foundation is best known for its support of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the Keck Telescopes in Hawaii and the support of Sesame Street on KCET. The William M. Keck, Jr. Foundation has supported the Venice Family Clinic, the Midnight Mission, and Meals on Wheels among other southern California organizations. Keck was responsible for grants from both Foundations to the 1736 Family Crisis Center, the People Concern, and CRE Outreach for Theatre by the Blind.

On November 25, 2019 the jury found that Ms. Keck had suffered $15 million in damages for the loss of the love and affection of her son.  The jury also found that the Club was 80-percent at fault for Keck’s death which reduces the award to $12 million.

The plaintiff’s trial team included Bruce Broillet and Alan Van Gelder with the Santa Monica law firm, Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP which is one of the country’s top plaintiffs’ personal injury law firms, specializing in wrongful death, catastrophic injury, legal malpractice, and product defect cases.

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