High Court upholds dismissal of lawsuit over sex assault

The Nevada Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit on behalf of mentally handicapped Carson City girl who was sexually assaulted at the Safeway store where she worked.

The girl, then 18, was assaulted by Emilio Ronquillo-Nino who was employed by the company which provided janitorial services at the store. He pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual assault.

Her parents sued both Safeway and Action Cleaning, the janitorial company.

But District Judge Bill Maddox granted summary judgment in favor of both the store and janitorial service. He ruled Safeway is immune from suit under the Nevada Industrial Insurance Act because it is covered by workman's compensation. He found the sexual assaults "arose out of and during the course of her employment and therefore her claims are barred by NIIA."

He ruled Action Cleaning can't be held liable for intentional crimes by its employee unrelated to his job function. The high court again agreed, ruling there was no way for Action Cleaning to anticipate that a 10-year employee with no prior complaints about his conduct would commit rape and therefore couldn't be held liable.

The girl was working an evening shift at the store when the rapes occurred. She met Ronquillo-Nino while both were working at the store. As a result of three sexual assaults by the defendant, the girl became pregnant and gave birth to a baby now being cared for by her parents.

All seven members of the Nevada Supreme Court voted to uphold the dismissal of the lawsuit.

However, the court included in its opinion an admonishment that, because Safeway claimed immunity from suit citing the claim is a worker's compensation case, the store is barred from any attempt to block that claim.

"In holding that the sexual assault and any injuries there from fall within the NIIA, we necessarily conclude that ongoing injuries that are the direct result of Ronquillo-Nino's sexual assault may be covered under the NIIA."

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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