Ruling: Resort not liable in teen's injury

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled the Primadonna is not liable for the injuries a teenage boy suffered in 2005 when he and his drunken relatives were thrown out of the hotel after fighting with other guests.

Seventeen-year-old Fabian Santiago was left a quadriplegic in an accident after he and his stepuncles, Manuel and Daniel Garibay, were kicked out of the resort, now called the Primm Valley hotel, for intoxication and fighting with other guests.

Manuel Garibay, who did not have a valid driver's license, mistook a frontage road outside the resort for the freeway and rolled their car while traveling at 80 mph.

In their 3-0 decision, justices held that Nevada has rejected a dram shop law that makes businesses that serve liquor liable for damages caused by an intoxicated patron after the patron has been reasonably evicted.

Attorneys for Santiago had argued the hotel was liable because Marlene Garibay, Santiago's mother, told security guards that the three men would "stay in the room and sleep it off."

Nonetheless, security officers refused that request and led them to their car in the parking lot. Once in the car, the three men were told by security guards that they could not sleep there either and had to leave the premises.

Fabian Santiago suffered severe spinal injuries in the accident that followed moments later.

Justices ruled that hotel proprietors have a legal right to evict from their premises anyone who acts in a disorderly manner or who causes a public disturbance.

"In addition, it is well settled in Nevada that commercial liquor venders, including hotel proprietors, cannot be held liable for damages related to any injuries caused by the intoxicated patrons, which are sustained by either the intoxicated patron or a third party," they decided.

"In other words, Nevada subscribes to the rationale underlying the nonliability principle -- that individuals, drunk or sober, are responsible for their torts."

In making the decision, the Supreme Court upheld a District Court decision throwing out the case against the Primadonna.

The decision was issued Thursday.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.