PACIFIC PALISADES—The Bel-Air Bay club was ordered to pay $12 million on Monday, November 25 after a two-week trial related to the wrongful death of William M. Keck III.
William M. Keck III, 48, the great-grandson to the founder of Superior Oil, William Keck Sr., died from heart arrhythmia brought on by heat exhaustion on September 3, 2017 at the Pacific Palisades facility. His mother Katherine “Kitty” Keck sued the Bel-Air Bay club for failing to administer aid to her son when he began showing signs of heat exhaustion.
The Santa Monica Superior Court jury determined that Kitty Keck suffered $15 million in damages as a result of her son’s wrongful death. The award was reduced to $12 million because the jury decided that William Keck’s death was partially his fault.
The plaintiff’s lawyers argued that the facility failed to recognize her son’s symptoms worsening his condition. They alleged that the club had procedures requiring club staff to call 911 in cases of heat exhaustion which they failed to execute.
The defendants’ legal team argued that Keck III had pre-existing health problems which he refused proper medication for. They also claimed that Keck III drank and smoked marijuana daily. According to the defense attorney’s papers, the staff did not have any obligation to call 911 because there was no way of knowing that Keck III’s potassium levels were high.
He was playing tennis during a tournament on a hot and humid day when his legs started cramping up at around 1:30 p.m. He retreated to the facility’s locker room where he asked an attendant to massage his calf muscle.
He was given water and Gatorade, but the cramping worsened and spread through his body. According to the lawsuit, after his worsening symptoms, staff at the Bel-Air Bay club failed to call 911 until 5 p.m. when Keck III started having difficulty breathing and started turning blue.
Paramedics arrived about 5:04 p.m. and transported Keck III to a nearby hospital. He died less than a hour after arriving at the hospital.
The Keck family’s foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations. William M. Keck III served as a board member for the foundation.