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Park City School District, police seek dismissal of lawsuit over boy’s 2016 drug death

Ryan Ainsworth fatally overdosed two days after his friend Grant Seaver died from the same drug, known as ‘pink’

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Park City is pictured on Friday, July 14, 2017.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawyers for Park City’s school district and police department are asking a judge to throw out a federal lawsuit alleging they knew a 13-year-old boy may have been using a powerful synthetic painkiller but did not tell his family before he overdosed in 2016.

Attorney Heather Chestnut said Wednesday that Ryan Ainsworth’s death is a tragedy but the law doesn’t allow her clients to be held liable, in part because he was not directly in their care like a foster child or inmate at a jail. The school had actually attempted to protect Ryan by sharing its concerns with his family when it didn’t have to, she said.

Robert Ainsworth’s lawyer, Robert Sykes, argued police and administrators could have “connected the dots” for his client when they urged him to take his son to the hospital after Grant Seaver fatally overdosed on the drug known as “pink,” or U-44770. They told the father Grant may have used the drug but didn’t tell him about messages between the boys saying Grant was using pink at school while Ryan was present, he alleges.

The father had Ryan evaluated for drug use as a precaution, but would have known to do more, Sykes said.

U.S. District Judge Howard Nielsen peppered both sides with questions about what the school and police had a duty to do and whether there was any more Robert Ainsworth could have done after searching his home, asking a doctor to evaluate Ryan, and talking to his older son about drug abuse. Neilsen did not issue a ruling at the conclusion of the hearing held via videoconference. He said he will decide at a later date.

Ryan was found dead in his family’s home from overdosing on the same drug two days after Grant. Other Park City teenagers bought the drug on the darknet; two were later charged and convicted for ordering the drug before and after the 13-year-olds’ deaths.

Robert Ainsworth also alleges Grant’s family wanted to relay their concerns that Ryan also was taking the drug but Park City police told them not to, saying it was law enforcement’s job.

Chestnut said Wednesday that Robert Ainsworth did in fact have clues about his son and the drug. She said he knew authorities had found his son with some sort of drug at a Best Buy and another friend had ordered a substance from China.