LOS ANGELES (CN) – The University of Southern California’s silence on violent crime was a “substantial factor” in the shooting deaths of two Chinese students near campus, their parents claim in court.
Last month Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23, were shot by an unknown assailant, roughly a mile away from the USC campus. Qu and Wu, close friends and both graduate electrical engineering students at USC, were sitting in a parked BMW outside Wu’s house when a gunman approached and shot them both, the Los Angeles Times reported last month.
“Qu attempted to run for help after he was shot in the head and was found collapsed on a nearby porch, police said,” according to the April 12 Times article. “Wu was found shot in the chest, slumped over in the passenger seat of the car parked on a tree-lined stretch of Raymond Avenue just south of Adams Boulevard.”
No arrests have been made, and police have reportedly attributed the gunman’s motivation to robbery.
Wanzi Qu and Xiaohong Fei, the mother and father of Qu, and Xiyong Wu and Meinan Yin, the parents of Mr. Wu, sued the school Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. They say the school lies about the “high crime areas” around the school because it is motivated by the high tuition that international students pay for enrollment.
Alan Burton Newman of Marina Del Ray, Calif., represents the parents in the suit for wrongful death based on intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation and negligence.
Newman told Courthouse News that his clients had no recourse but to sue.
“The parents wanted to negotiate a settlement, and USC said, ‘We’re not going to do it,'” Newman said in a telephone interview. He added that the parents had also filed the complaint so that USC would properly police the area and “provide proper disclosure to their students.”
USC’s outside counsel, Debra Wong Yang with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, said that the school was “deeply saddened by this tragic event” but is not “representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus.”
“While we have deep sympathy for the victims’ families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed,” Yang said in statement to Courthouse News. “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 and filed suit.”
According to the complaint, the USC website boasts that the university is “‘ranked among the safest of U.S. universities and colleges'” and that the school polices its campuses and surrounding neighborhoods around the clock.
But the parents counter that “USC is not one of the safest U.S. universities and colleges and does not provide twenty four hour law enforcement services in the surrounding neighborhoods and is in a high crime area.”
USC was not patrolling in the neighborhoods where Qu and Wu were killed, the lawsuit states.
The USC website says that the school is located in a “‘very urban neighborhood,'” and describes University Park as “‘an urban oasis of courtyards and parks,'” the complaint states.
But Qu and Wu’s parents say “urban” has a different meaning in China, where such neighborhoods are viewed as safe places to live.
“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,” the lawsuit states.
The parents say that USC’s misrepresentations and “failure to disclose” were “substantial factors” in the deaths of their children.
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