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Civil Case Dismissals Made Easier in Nevada

The Nevada Supreme Court passed a controversial ruling this week that many think can make it easier to dismiss civil cases before they have a chance to go to trial. According to state laws passed in 1954 if there is even the “slightest doubt” then a dismissal of the case from going to trial is prohibited. The slightest doubt factor may be removed completely under the recent law.

Ann McGinley, professor of law at Boyd Law School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas said the passing of the law was significant because it would change how most cases were handled in the future. If juries were not required to sit in on most cases, the theory is, the rights and judgments by a panel of peers could disappear entirely.

Under new laws the judge will have to examine each case thoroughly in order to determine if there are enough facts to present to file the case.

The new court opinion stemmed from a civil lawsuit filed by the guardians of an unnamed woman who was sexually assaulted three times in her Carson City place of employment. The woman was employed at Safeway Stores, was mentally disabled, and was raped by Emilio Ronquillo-Nino, a janitor employed by Action Cleaning Inc. a company under subcontract with Safeway. The woman became pregnant due to her rape.

The attorney for the unnamed woman cited slightest doubt regarding the case that was filed against the man, Safeway, and Action Cleaning Inc. The judge stated that the attorney could not use slightest doubt in the case because there were not enough clear significant facts.

Carson District Judge William Maddox dismissed the case. He said Safeway was immune from being sued through its Insurance coverage. He also stated Action Cleaning Inc. was not liable for the actions of its employee.

Under the new laws judges will be able to use their discretion in determining if there are higher levels of evidence, which warrant a trial for use in any civil case.

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