LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The family of UNLV student Nathan Valencia who died in November after fighting in a charity boxing match has filed a lawsuit naming several defendants including UNLV and the fraternity that hosted the event.
8 News Now’s I-Team reporter Vanessa Murphy first broke the story of Valencia’s death shortly after it happened. The I-Team was the first to learn that a lawsuit was filed Monday evening.
Valencia’s parents said their 20-year-old son suffered brain injuries during the Nov. 19, 2021 fight, collapsed after the fight, and died four days later. According to the lawsuit, they believe Nathan suffered “intense physical and mental pain, disfigurement, shock, and agony” prior to his death on Nov. 23, 2021.
The lawsuit names Kappa Sigma Fraternity, which began the annual charity boxing event in 2012, as well as seven individuals associated with the fraternity, UNLV, the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, Christopher Eisenhauer, and the Sahara Event Center where the boxing event took place.
The lawsuit alleges numerous issues that led to Valencia’s death including equipment that was “inadequate and unsafe” as well as the fact there was no ringside physician or any other medical personnel observing the match or even on standby at the event.
According to the lawsuit, a licensed referee was supposed to officiate the matches but one wasn’t there so Christopher Eisenhauser acted as a referee even though he had “no experience, training or education,” as a referee and the fraternity was aware of that but still used him and did not cancel the event.
In addition, the suit alleges Eisenhauer “continuously consumed alcohol” during the event and during Nathan’s match. The I-Team had obtained a video that showed the referee drinking what appeared to be alcohol.
“Despite knowing that he was intoxicated and highly impaired, the Kappa Sigma defendants selected and had him as act as the referee,” the suit reads.
The suit also points out students who had taken part in previous Kappa Sigma Fraternity Fight Nights suffered serious injuries including one person who was knocked unconscious and required hospital treatment.
While Nevada has rules and regulations for boxing matches, school events such as the one hosted by the fraternity were exempt from the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s oversight.
An emergency regulation — Nathan’s Law — was signed by Governor Steve Sisolak on Dec. 13, 2021, that is in effect for 120 days which gives the athletic commission oversight of those unregulated events.
On Tuesday, the athletic commission voted unanimously to make the change permanent. A commission representative told the I-Team that the next step is a review by the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
The Attorney General’s Office and UNLV have also launched investigations. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police did investigate but didn’t find “any criminality on the part of the venue.”
“Our deepest sympathies remain with Nathan Valencia’s family, friends and loved ones. The university is continuing its internal review into the incident and is cooperating fully with state and local agencies. Out of respect for the legal process, the university has no further comment on the litigation at this time,” UNLV spokesperson Tony Allen told the I-Team.
The I-Team also contacted the Kappa Sigma Fraternity for comment related to the Valencia family’s lawsuit and the fraternity’s executive director Mitchell Wilson responded saying that “Kappa Sigma Fraternity does not comment on matters involving litigation.”
The lawsuit states the family is seeking past and future general damages, as well as special damages, and punitive damages all in excess of $15,000. They are being represented by the Richard Harris law firm.