Lawsuit Settled Over Death of Utah Inmate

January 3, 2012

Utah’s Salt Lake County has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a 19-year-old Magna man who starved to death while in the county jail earlier this year.

The dollar amount and other terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

However, the agreement was confirmed by a federal court filing and by an attorney representing the family of Carlos Umana, whose weight dropped from 175 pounds to 77 during his four months in jail.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Bob Sykes, said his clients are satisfied with the settlement and with policy changes that have occurred at the jail since Umana died Feb. 27.

“I believe (the clients are) confident steps have been taken to avoid this kind of problem in the future,” he said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Pam Lofgreen issued a statement saying the jail has changed some policies found to be factors in Umana’s death and is still evaluating others.

“Training and evaluation of our procedures are constantly ongoing, and we will continue to strive to provide the very best care possible for our prisoner population,” Lofgreen said.

The county also reached a settlement with MHM Services, Inc., a contracted medical provider that was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

A lawyer for MHM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The family’s suit, filed in July in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, contends jailers acted with “deliberate indifference” when they failed to ensure Umana was eating and taking mental health medications.

According to the lawsuit, Umana had stopped eating because he feared he was being poisoned.

Umana was being held in jail on an attempted murder charge.

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