House OKs $13.5M settlement with parents of Lauren McCluskey over her 2018 murder
Settlement awaits final approval from Senate before money goes to Lauren McCluskey Foundation, parents
“There are certain times when things happen that are beyond our control, and this is a case that we’ve spoken about at length before,” said Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, who sponsored House Joint Resolution 10 authorizing the settlement.
“This amount of settlement never will return a young lady to her family, and that is something that’s tragic and sad,” Gibson said.
The state, through its risk management agency and insurance provider, will pay $10.5 million to the McCluskeys. Another $3 million will be paid by the university in the form of a donation to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation.
The settlement awaits approval from the Senate before it becomes final.
Once the settlement is approved, the McCluskeys’ attorneys have said they would seek to dismiss their two lawsuits against the University of Utah and the other defendants with prejudice, meaning it could not be filed again.
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.
“Without going into any of the facts and rehashing those, I think we can simply agree that this was a terrible tragedy for everyone involved, that we all regret what happened. All we can do is look back and see what we can learn from it,” said Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, an attorney.
“I think we have learned some ways we can improve our law enforcement on the campus, but I think we also need to remember that not every wrong has a remedy under the law,” he said.
But Nelson noted the person who killed McCluskey is dead, and the university has worked to make corrections. The university and state doesn’t admit liability through the settlement or guarantee a similar crime couldn’t happen again “despite all of our precautions and improvement in security,” Nelson said.