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Parents Of Slain Students File Wrongful Death Suit Against USC

Catherine Green |
May 17, 2012 | 12:16 p.m. PDT


From the April 18 memorial on campus for Wu Ying (left) and Qu Ming (right). (Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)
From the April 18 memorial on campus for Wu Ying (left) and Qu Ming (right). (Gracie Zheng/Neon Tommy)
The families of Qu Ming and Wu Ying, two Chinese electrical engineering students shot and killed near campus April 11, have filed a wrongful death suit against USC. 

According to City News Service, Wanzhi Qu and Xiaohong Fei, Ming's parents, and Xiyong Wu and Meinan Yin, parents to Ying, filed the complaint Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages.

Their children were shot a little over a month ago in what police say may have been a botched carjacking. Ming and Ying were seated in a car parked in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue near campus around 1 a.m., when the still-unidentified shooter approached the vehicle and killed both. 

In a statement issued that day, USC officials said they were "saddened and outraged by this callous and meaningless act." The school's Department of Public Safety joined the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation to solve the crime. 

The university has continued to struggle with easing the concerns of its community. DPS and LAPD have both issued statements about crime decreasing in the area over the last decade. 

Some measures have been taken to improve security since the shooting. Last month, USC and the LAPD announced a contract to add 30 new officers to the Southwest Division to aid in cleaning up the area. The details of that deal, namely the cost and timeline of such a move, were left out in the April 27 announcement and have still not been released.

Meanwhile, according to the families' attorney Alan Newman, Ying and Ming's parents were both offered financial aid by the university in restitution. According to USC attorney Debra Wong Yang, "As part of our support for the families, we met with them and offered financial assistance as a gesture of kindness and sympathy. The attorney for the families subsequently instructed them to decline USC's gesture," resulting in the lawsuit.

"That's absolutely false," Newman countered when reached for comment. "That's not what we (attorneys) do. The parents decided on their own to deny it because it tied in a complete release of liability." He also noted the amount of the offered aid was "relatively minor." 

In the official filing, the complaint called for action based on "intentional misrepresentation" and negligence. The complaint pointed out that USC's website "extols the virtues of the school" and purports to be among the nation's safest campuses. "USC is not one of the safest U.S. universities and colleges," the filing continued, "and does not provide twenty four hour law enforcement services in the surrounding neighborhoods and is in a high crime area."

The families also said their children were misled into believing the "urban" neighborhood was safe, "since in China, the more urban the area, the safer the area."

USC's attorney Yang said the incident was not grounds for lawsuit. "USC is deeply saddened by this tragic event, which was a random violent act not representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus," she said. "While we have deep sympathy for the victims' families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed."

Asked whether he thought USC might settle quietly or continue to fight against the suit to avoid taking blame for the shootings, Newman said he couldn't predict either way. "That's all speculative," he said by phone Thursday. "I know what the right thing to do is obviously. But I can't say what someone else will do."


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