Pali Beach Club to Pay Woman Over $10M After Son Dies From Heat Exhaustion

Jury renders verdict to Santa Monica mother of William M. Keck III

By Sam Catanzaro

A Santa Monica woman will receive over $10 million from a Pacific Palisades beach club after her 48-year-old son died from heat exhaustion during a 2017 paddle tennis tournament. 

On Monday, November 25 a Santa Monica jury rendered a $12 million verdict to Katherine “Kitty” Keck of Santa Monica, the mother of 48-year-old William M. Keck III of Marina Del Rey, who suffered from fatal heat exhaustion at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades. 

According to Gina Fernandes, Director of Public Relations for Juris Productions in a press release sent on behalf of the plaintiffs, Keck III died from a heart arrhythmia caused by elevated potassium due to heat exhaustion on September 3, 2017. His mother Kitty 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,” added Keck.  

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,” he added. 

 According to Fernandes, Keck III had been playing paddle tennis at a tournament on a “hot and humid” day. 

Bel-Air Bay Club. Photo: Wendy Anderson/Archives

“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 one 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 was not followed for more than three hours. Keck III died at the hospital at 5:56 pm,” Fernandes said. 

 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. In addition, 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.

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

Palisades News has reached out to the Bel-Air Bay Club for comment but they did not respond at the time of publishing. 

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