Wednesday , August 30, 2017 - 5:30 AM
FARMINGTON — A wrongful death lawsuit against the Clearfield Job Corps Center has landed back in state court after the operating contractor lost a bid to kill the case in federal court.
Isela Huerta Carranza, 17, died March 10, 2014, on the Clearfield vocational training campus. Her mother, Adriana Delaluz of Idaho Falls, Idaho, alleged in a suit filed Feb. 18, 2016, that the Management and Training Corp. staff was negligent in dealing with the teen’s diabetic condition before she suffered seizures and cardiac arrest.
In an Aug. 15 memorandum decision, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups in Salt Lake City said the Centerville-based company was barred from pursuing its defense in the federal courts because the company already had fought and lost over substantive issues in 2nd District Court.
“While MTC was obviously free to make those strategic decisions in state court, at this stage of the proceedings, MTC must live with the consequences of those decisions,” Waddoups wrote.
MTC’s lawyers transferred the case to federal court and sought the suit’s dismissal there after an adverse ruling Jan. 4 by Judge Thomas Kay in the Farmington court.
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MTC, which operates the Clearfield center under contract with the U.S. Labor Department, asked Waddoups to throw out the case because Delaluz lost an administrative claim before she sued. Attorneys for MTC argued federal law places that administrative action as the final step in resolving such a dispute.
But Waddoups pointed to Kay’s ruling against MTC on that issue. The Farmington judge ruled Delaluz still could pursue her allegations that MTC was negligent in caring for her daughter.
Kay also refused to dismiss Delaluz’s claim that MTC slandered Carranza by suggesting she had used alcohol and drugs. Quoting Utah law, Kay said the state’s definition of slander “expressly prohibits malicious defamation tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”
The case now continues toward trial before Kay, or further procedural disputes and appeals of the rulings to date.
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