Tort Law

Parents of Students Slain in Los Angeles Near USC Sue School re Claimed Safety Misrepresentations


The parents of two Chinese electrical engineering graduate students shot to death last month while they were sitting in a parked BMW outside the home of one of the victims have filed a wrongful death suit against the University of Southern California.

Relying on theories of misrepresentation and negligence, it contends that USC misrepresented on its website the safety of the Los Angeles neighborhood surrounding its campus and the extent of the security provided there by the institution, according to the Los Angeles Times and Reuters.

Courthouse News provides a link to the complaint (PDF). It was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Among other claims, the suit says the website described the area of Los Angeles surrounding USC as “an urban oasis of courtyards and parks.” The word “urban,” as USC knew, has a connotation of safety in China, the complaint says. “USC has offices in China and has large numbers of Chinese students and are well aware how the word ‘urban’ will be understood by prospective Chinese applicants.”

It calls USC’s alleged misrepresentations and failure to disclose a “substantial factor” in the deaths of Ming Qu and Ying Wu.

Debra Wong Yang of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher represents USC. She said the school is “deeply saddened by this tragic event” and expressed sympathy for the victims’ families. However, the students’ killings aren’t “representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus,” she said, calling the lawsuit baseless and saying that her client would move to have it dismissed.

Related coverage:

The Informer (LA Weekly): “Ying Wu and Ming Qu, USC Grad Students From China, Identified as Shooting Victims”

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