Family of student killed during frat-house boxing match overseen by unlicensed referee REJECTS $150,000 settlement from University of Nevada Las Vegas
- The parents of Nathan Valencia, 20, are refusing to accept a $150,000 settlement from the University of Nevada Las Vegas
- They had sued the university back in February claiming it was negligent in their son’s death by failing to inspect gear and hiring an unlicensed referee
- Valencia had collapsed after his match for charity on November 19, and died four days later from head injuries he sustained
- The family says the university has not done enough to ensure students’ safety at future college-sanctioned events in the months since
The family of a college student who died in an unauthorized charity boxing match at his frat house is refusing to accept a $150,000 settlement from the university.
The parents of Nathan Valencia, 20, had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against University of Nevada Las Vegas officials back in February claiming they were negligent in his death by failing to inspect the gear and hiring an unlicensed referee.
Valencia had collapsed after his match for charity on November 19, and died four days later from head injuries he sustained.
In the months since, they argue, the university has not done enough to ensure students’ safety at future college-sanctioned events.
‘Actions speak louder than words,’ the family’s attorney, Benjamin Cloward, told 8 News Now.
‘UNLV has not taken any significant steps to ensure that something like this never happens to another student and instead has chosen to try and sweep what happened to Nathan under the rug.
‘The offer made by UNLV speaks loudly as to UNLV’s true concern for the Valencia family, Nathan’s memory and future student safety,’ he continued. ‘We sincerely hope that at some point, UNLV will begin to take this matter seriously.’
University officials have declined to comment on pending litigation, but told 8 News Now: ‘As we have previously stated, “We continue to mourn the loss of Nathan Valencia and extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
“UNLV has been transparent throughout this process and issued an independent review of this off-campus event with the clear goal of further safeguarding our students and preventing such tragedies in the future.”‘
Francis McCabe, the college’s director of public affairs, added that $150,000 is the maximum award a state agency is allowed to dole out in a civil case.
The family of Nathan Valencia, 20, right, has refused to accept the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ $150,000 settlement, saying the college hasn’t done enough to ensure student safety in the months since his November death
Valencia collapsed about five minutes after participating in ‘Kappa Sigma Fight Night’ on November 19. He had suffered from internal bleeding and brain injuries after being severely hurt in the fight.
The college junior died from blunt force trauma to the head on November 23, just days before his 21st birthday. The coroner ruled his cause of death as homicide. His organs were donated to eight different people.
A flyer for the fight listed him as competing against Emmanuel Aleman in the main event, but the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has said they will not be filing charges in connection to the incident.
Valencia (pictured) died from blunt force trauma to the head on November 23
‘Although Mr. Valencia’s death is tragic, the circumstances surrounding his death are not criminal and no charges will be filed,’ police said.
But in the aftermath, witnesses alleged there was no professional medical help present at the event — and video showed the unlicensed referee who was hired for the event drinking on the job.
The Nevada Athletic Commission then referred the investigation to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which concluded that many safety protocols were not followed during the event.
It found that there were no pre-fight weigh ins, no medical physicals required for the fighters, no inspection of the gloves and headgear, no certified referees and no ringside doctors or ambulances.
The Attorney General’s Office also suggested in its report that Aleman may have used cocaine prior to the fight, a claim Aleman’s lawyers have disputed.
And, the report found that not all of the fighters were students at the university, leading to some confusion over which agency could regulate the event.
Valencia collapsed about five minutes after participating in ‘Kappa Sigma Fight Night’ on November 19. He is pictured in the fatal fight wearing black shorts
He had suffered from internal bleeding and brain injuries after being severely hurt in the fight against Emmanuel Aleman
Video appeared to show Christopher Eisenhauer, who participated as a referee without a license, drinking while on the job
By February, Valencia’s parents, Michael and Cynthia, filed a lawsuit against UNLV, the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the Kappa Sigma fraternity, the Sahara Center (where the event took place) and Christopher Eisenhauer who participated as a referee without a license.
Aleman was not named as one of the defendants.
In the lawsuit, the family alleges that numerous issued led to Valencia’s death — and the defendants should have known the minimum safety protocols when holding an amateur boxing event.
It claims Kappa Sigma has promoted Fight Nights since 2012, and that the frat has ‘actual knowledge that participants in prior Kappa Sigma Fight Nights suffered serious injuries,’ including one incident in which a participant was knocked unconscious and hospitalized.
It also alleges that neither the fraternity nor the university had ‘training, education or experience in boxing match-making’ and that several participants experienced issued with equipment given to them before their fight.
Additionally, Kappa Sigma is alleged to have failed to inform any hospitals or medical facilities that a Fight Night was taking place, according to the Las Vegas Sun, and it argues that Eisenhauer was not a qualified referee who ‘continuously consumed alcohol’ and was ‘intoxicated and highly impaired’ while assuming his official duties that night.
The fraternity was later suspended from campus.
His girlfriend, Lacey Foster, previously said she could tell Nathan was just trying to catch his breath during the fight
Valencia’s parents say the Kappa Sigma fraternity was negligent in its Fight Night event leading up to their son’s death
A flyer for the ‘fight night’ list ‘Emmanuel Aleman vs. Nathan Valencia’ as the ‘main event’
Valencia, a kinesiology student and an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at UNLV, registered for the charity event despite having no boxing experience.
A flyer for the ‘fight night’ list ‘Emmanuel Aleman vs. Nathan Valencia’ as the ‘main event’.
‘Come out and support your favorite fighters or just have a good time watching the smack downs of the year,’ the event flyer advertised.
Valencia’s longtime friend, Joe Castro, told CBS 8 the event seemed like ‘an underground fight club’.
He didn’t remember seeing any medical help and said that a fight broke out after Valencia collapsed.
‘I saw no medical, no doctors, nothing,’ Castro continued.
He said people were: ‘doing their own thing while Nathan was just in the ring like laying there…It was ridiculous.’
Valencia’s girlfriend, Lacey Foster, said after the fight: ‘I walked in there, I just had like a really weird feeling. I remember in one of the fights, someone’s head gear fell off and then during Nathan’s fight, you could see that he was just trying to get away to catch a breath.’
Valencia’s fraternity posted a tribute to their Instagram: ‘Our brother Nathan showed us nothing but love and will continue to do so from up above. His strength and kindness never went unseen and we were so thankful to have him as a brother.’
UNLV’s president Keith Whitfield released a statement seeming to distance the university from Valencia’s death following ‘Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s ‘Fight Night,’ an off-campus event intended to raise money.’
Foster created a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral and medical expenses.
Valencia is remembered as having ‘a smile that lit up every room he walked into.’
‘Nathan was the kind of person who put others before himself. Anyone who knows him could see how much he cared and loved for his family, friends, and myself.’
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