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April 10, 2021

Parents of slain U. student Lauren McCluskey move to dismiss lawsuit after settlement payment

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey sought to dismiss their federal lawsuit Tuesday against the school and others after apparently receiving payment from a settlement agreement reached last fall.

Attorneys for Jill and Matt McCluskey filed the motion in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City noting the agreement provided that Jill and Matt McCluskey would dismiss their claims no later than 15 days after payment of the settlement amount. That deadline was Tuesday.

The McCluskeys and the U. announced last October that they had reached a $13.5 million settlement in their two lawsuits — federal civil suit and a wrongful death suit in state court — against the university.

The state, through its risk management agency and insurance provider, paid $10.5 million to the McCluskeys. Another $3 million was paid by the university in the form of a donation to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation.

The Utah Legislature unanimously approved the payment during its general session that ended earlier this month.

U. President Ruth Watkins acknowledged the university failed in its duty to help McCluskey, and the school concedes that her murder was a “brutal, senseless and preventable” tragedy.

On Oct. 22, 2018, McCluskey, a 21-year-old communications major and track athlete from Pullman, Washington, was shot and killed on campus near her dorm by Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37, after weeks of being stalked and harassed by Rowland. Rowland fatally shot himself hours later as police were closing in to make an arrest.

In the weeks that followed McCluskey’s death, it was learned that she had sought repeatedly to get help from campus police without success.

The lawsuit is being dismissed with prejudice, meaning it could not be filed again.

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