University of Utah requests formal dismissal of lawsuit filed by parents of Lauren McCluskey

Local (Utah/State News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The University of Utah filed a motion on Friday asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of Lauren McCluskey.

In documents filed in District Court, attorneys for the University of Utah requested a $56 million dollar lawsuit filed in June by Jill and Matt McCluskey on behalf of their daughter, Lauren McCluskey, be dismissed based on multiple factors.

Documents indicate the request was made because “harassment perpetrated by a non-student, non-employee, with no University affiliation, cannot be the basis of a Title IX claim against the University as the University does not have the “substantial control” of such an individual required for the implied cause of action judicially created under Title IX.”

It further indicates the University of Utah is not a “person”and therefore cannot be held liable.

In reference to the individuals listed in the lawsuit, Dale Brophy, Kory Newbold, Kayla Dallof, Miguel Deras, Todd Justensen, Heather McCarthy, and Emily Thompson (the “University Staff Members”), the motion to dismiss stated they too shall not be held liable “because Plaintiffs have failed to assert specific facts supporting their claim that the Staff Members’ alleged actions or inactions in this case were related to Ms. McCluskey’s gender.”

It further stated that in addition, the plaintiffs have failed to allege that the University Staff Members violated Ms. McCluskey’s clearly established constitutional rights.”

You can read the full documents filed on Friday here:

21-year-old Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed by a man she briefly dated while on campus Monday, Oct. 22. 

The family states that despite Lauren doing everything right, the University of Utah failed to take the necessary steps to protect their daughter.

During a press conference held in June, the family attorney James McConkie said Lauren’s death was “preventable” and that the murder occurred because of the university’s failure to respond to Lauren’s repeated complaints against Melvin Rowland.

The lawsuit claims Lauren and her fellow students contacted the University of Utah more than 20 times to report Rowland’s abusive, dangerous and threatening behavior.

“This preventable murder occurred because the University repeatedly ignored multiple concerning reports of stalking, physical abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and other dangerous and abusive behaviors prohibited under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a),” it reads in part.

Lauren’s mother, Jill McCluskey, said that since the time of Lauren’s death, the university has “made 30 recommendations for the University to fix” the system that failed Lauren. Yet, the President of the University of Utah, Ruth Watkins said: “that the report does not offer any reason to believe this tragedy could have been prevented.”

“Her statement made me physically ill,” Jill said.

Jill said that she tried to work with Watkins to remedy the system and hold individuals accountable. However, President Watkins never “responded to my email.”

Attorney McConkie said at this point the McCluskeys realized that “the only way to improve campus safety is to file a lawsuit.”

Lauren’s dad Matt claimed this was a “last resort to affect positive change.”

The McCluskeys said that proceeds from their lawsuit will be placed in the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, a non-profit organization that honors Lauren’s legacy by supporting charitable work that promotes campus safety, amateur athletics, and animal welfare.

Click here to make donations to the foundation.

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