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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Gymnast Says Abuse Followed Paralysis

MANHATTAN (CN) - A national champion gymnast from China who was paralyzed by a fall at the 1998 Goodwill Games claims a New York-based Chinese American couple "silenced" her from revealing that the games' organizers were responsible for her injury, then abused their power as her Chinese government-appointed "guardian" to deny her living expenses and medical coverage.

Sang Lan, China's 1997 national champion, sued AOL Times Warner, the United States Gymnastics Federation dba USA Gymnastics, TIG Insurance, Riverstone Claims Management, Ted Turner, and the Chinese-American couple, K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung.

Lan demands $1.8 billion in damages in her federal complaint.

Lan was 17 when she arrived in New York as a member of the Chinese team to compete in the Goodwill Games in July 1998. She says that as she was warming up an employee for the organizers wandered into the vault area and removed the mat as she was about to land.

"Ms. Lan was disturbed, fell and hit her head on the floor, leading to permanent disability from her chest down and the immobility of her two arms and hands," the complaint states.

The next day, Lan says, the Chinese government denied her mother and father's parental rights, and put her in the custody of business partners of the Chinese Gymnastic Association.

"The following day after the tragic incident, on or about July 22, 2008, Ms. Lan's biological parents were called, and immediately came to New York from China. However, Ms. Lan's parents were immediately deprived of all parental rights on their 17 years old daughter. Instead, K. S. Liu ... and K.S Gina Hiu-Hung ... husband and wife, were appointed by Chinese Gymnastic Association, where Ms. Lan was employed, to be her guardian without due process or any legal procedures, to take an airtight control of everything Ms. Lan may do or speak," the complaint states.

Liu and Hiu-Hung are New York residents who were "involved in business dealings/transactions such as Sports Lottery in China with corrupted officials in many hundred millions dollars," according to the complaint.

Lan says that on behalf of an unnamed "Chinese boss," her appointed guardians prevented her from telling the press about what caused her fall.

"Sang mentioned that her fall was cause[d] by the intrusion of another person when she was sent to hospital, but the K.S. Liu and K.S Gina Hiu-Hung and their Chinese boss immediately silenced her and dismissed her accusation, saying she had brain damage.

K.S. Liu and K.S Gina Hiu-Hung have acted in concert with Zhang Jian, the president of Chinese Gymnastic Association, preventing Ms. Lan and her parents from voicing any complaints or lodging claims against whoever could be liable for her injuries, in an effort to protect the Defendants and business partners, who are acting in a conflict of interest. As a matter of fact, Ms. Lan has been under house arrest by K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung, who listens to their Chinese boss only.

"In order to seal Ms. Lan's mouth from speaking out the truth, K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung falsely promised that they would provide for her needs and living expenses for life, since they had profited from being appointed and acted as guardians for her. K.S. Liu and K.S Gina Hiu-Hung's business and company have harvested several hundreds millions dollars income from Chinese sports related business transactions, since after they were appointed as guardian for Ms. Lan, and they only act according to the instructions from their Chinese boss, who made them billionaires in China.

"K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung's representations/promises have never been made true," the complaint states.

Lan claims Liu and Hiu-Hung released private emails, letters and photos of her and her boyfriend, and leaked defamatory stories about them to intimidate her from pursuing a lawsuit against Goodwill Games organizers.

"On or about from January 2011 till present day, immediately prior [to] the commencement of this action, K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung started a propaganda campaign to smear plaintiff's good name on the internet by publishing defamatory statements, blogs, such as: 'she is a wicked person, forgot all the good things (K.S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung have done for her), will be punished by God.'; 'Sang Lan is a lazy person, only wants luxury. Her lawsuit is for money to satisfy her appetite for luxuries.'; 'Sang Lan is so lazy, that she was trained to pee on her own, but she didn't. I am a big man, I had to use a tube to assist her to pee,'" the complaint states.

Lan claims she also was exploited by media mogul Ted Turner.

"Ted Turner promised to Ms. Lan, her agents and Chinese government officials including but not limited to then Chinese President Jiang Zemin that that he and his companies would provide for Ms. Lan for her living expenses and medical care for life. Ms. Lan has relied on Ted Turner's promise to her own detriment. However, Ted Turner's promise is nothing but misrepresentation, with no intent to deliver, merely for the purpose to advance defendants' own public image and reputation as a charitable person," the complaint states.

Lan claims that TIG Insurance, the provider for USA Gymnastics, withheld coverage because she lives outside the United States.

"Due [to] the lack of proper insurance coverage, and Ted Turner's failure to provide for Ms. Lan as promised, she could not receive the necessary treatments for the past 13 years, and her physical condition has deteriorated as a result," the complaint states.

Though since her fall she has become an international celebrity and author, Lan says, she has been powerless to pay for her treatments or "seek justice" until now.

"K. S. Liu and K.S. Gina Hiu-Hung have been in total control of Sang Lan's medical treatments, choices of treatment, any and all connections with American doctors, and have threatened to cut off the links should Ms. Lan take legal action. Living in China for the past 13 years, Ms. Lan was literally unable to sue in an American court or Chinese court. Ms. Lan has been struggling for the past 13 years in China, without proper medical insurance coverage, without a penny compensatory damage for her fatal permanent injury, without freedom or recourse to seek justice," the complaint states.

She seeks $100 million for each of 18 counts - including violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, defamation, and conspiracy, and others.

She is represented by Ming Hai.

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