The lawsuit claims that the Zuckerberg’s offered $7,500 to the family of Rodney Medeiros, 70, who died while working at their Hawaiian property in 2019
The family of a security guard who died at Mark Zuckerberg’s sprawling Hawaiian property in 2019 are suing the tech billionaire, alleging negligence and wrongful death, Hawaii News Now reported.
Rodney Medeiros, 70, suffered a heart attack while working as a part-time, seasonal security guard on the Meta CEO’s resort, known as Koolau Ranch, in Kauai in August 2019, the lawsuit brought against Zuckerberg’s company, Pilaa Land, LLC, says.
The 70-year-old retired sugar cane worker had been brought on as part of the social media executive’s security detail, where he was responsible for patrolling the Pilaa beach, which was located at the bottom of a steep hill of their 1,412-acre compound on Kauai.
Meideiros had his deadly heart attack while making the trek from the beach back to the compound amid heavy rain, according to the lawsuit, which asserts that Zuckerberg’s company could have prevented his death if the vehicle that normally brought him back up the hill had been fitted with tires for inclement weather.
The family say that the Zuckerbergs gave them a check for $7,500 following Medeiros’ death, but they believe his life is worth far more than that.
The daughter of Medeiros told Hawaii News Now that her father would be driven to his station at the beginning of each shift and would be escorted back up the hill at the end.
“They would take him with a Kawasaki Mule and drive him to his post. And when his shift was over they would go down and pick him up and bring him back up,” said Ziba Medeiros to the local news outlet.
On 19 August, Ms Medeiros noted how heavy rain began to fall and by the end of his shift at 6pm, the road to reach her father had become difficult to manoeuvre with the vehicles on the property, which thus forced the 70-year-old to make the long trek up the steep hill by foot.
“It’s a cliff,” Ms Medeiros told the news outlet, highlighting how she’d been told that “it drops on both sides.”
A separate security guard hired by the Zuckerbergs’ grew worried when he realised that his co-worker had not returned from the bottom of the hill after some time had passed, and when he went out to search for Medeiros, he found him leaning up against a tree and clutching his chest.
Among the staff included in the sprawling Zuckerberg estate was an on-site medic, Ben LaBolt, a spokesperson for the Zuckerberg’s family office, told The Independent.
That medic, according to Mr LaBolt, then provided support to the ailing security guard and then saw to it that he was “conscious and communicative” before an ambulance rushed him to Wilcox Hospital.
Medeiros would be announced dead hours later, with a report from a cardiologist later confirming that “the physical stress of climbing the hill was a substantial factor that caused the acute event,” Hawaii News Now reported.
For the security guard’s daughter, she wouldn’t find out about her father’s untimely passing until the next day.
In the lawsuit, the attorneys representing the Medeiros argue that the 70-year-old’s death could’ve been prevented had the vehicles at the compound been outfitted with better-equipped tires for the terrain they frequently had to drive on.
“It didn’t need to happen,” said attorneys Michael Green, who is being supported in the lawsuit by Michael Stern. According to the pair’s research, the four-wheelers on the estate could’ve been upgraded at a cost of approximately $1,000 which would’ve made it possible for them to safely operate in torrential downpours.
A security manager for the Zuckerberg’s reportedly met with the Medeiros a week after the incident occurred on their property. During the meeting, which was recorded by the family, the employee of the Zuckerberg’s relays how he’d spoken with both Mark and his wife, Priscilla, and they’d like to extend their condolences for the loss of Medeiros.
“We’re sorry,” the manager is heard saying in the recording, according to Hawaii News Now.
The conversation continues with the security manager at one point turning to the topic of financial assistance, noting to the surviving family members that the figure is “pretty much open”.
For their part, the family wasn’t open to discussing putting a number on their father’s recent death and at no point during the meeting, they say, did they offer up a quote.
However, a few days later, they received a letter in the mail that confirmed that that decision had been made for them.
“They ended up giving us a check for $7,500,” Ms Medeiros told Hawaii News Now, admitting that at first blush, she felt that the gesture was “nice”, but upon more consideration realised that it was a sneeze for a pair of billionaires.
“It’s $7,500 for our father’s life. Is this supposed to make it OK?” she said.
In a statement released to The Independent, Mr LaBolt acknowledged that the $7,500 sent to the Medeiros family was a contribution “given by Mark and Priscilla,” with its intended use to be applied “to help with burial and funeral expenses.”
“All vehicles at Koolau Ranch are professionally maintained on an ongoing basis,” Mr LaBolt added, noting that there is a training program that staff at the ranch who operate vehicles “must undergo in order to operate vehicles at the ranch.”
The spokesperson for the Zuckerberg’s also highlighted in the statement that the wrongful death lawsuit “was filed two years after the incident” and the security contractor that performed security duties at Koolau Ranch at the time of Mederrio’s death and who employed the 70-year-old, SPACA, does not currently perform duties at the compound.