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Utah Attorney Plans Wrongful Death Suit Against County Jail

Attorney Michael Studebaker announced on February 17, 2017 that he planned to file a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Marion Herrera, a 40-year-old Ogden woman who died after 3½ days in custody at a jail in Weber County, Utah.

Herrera was a heroin addict charged with cashing a $763 forged check. She was booked into the jail on May 18, 2016 and pronounced dead four days later after being found unresponsive in a medical cell. Studebaker said the death certificate provided to the family indicated Herrera’s cause of death was “probable cardiac arrhythmia disturbance due to dehydration due to prolonged [drug] withdrawal.”

Investigative documents obtained by the Standard-Examiner said Herrera’s mother, Patsy Medina, told detectives that her daughter was in “overall poor health” from her $300-a-day drug habit. According to jail medical staff, Herrera had been placed on a liquid diet but received no withdrawal-easing medications.

Studebaker said the county had not responded to a notice of intent to sue he filed last summer, and his open records requests for investigative records had gone unanswered.

“They were negligent,” he declared. “I find it interesting they are going to ignore us.” Herrera should have received more than just a liquid diet, Studebaker added. “There’s this magic thing called medical. They can give her an IV instead of hoping to get her to take it [liquids] or die.”