The parents of a film student who was murdered along with two peers while working on an assignment in April have sued the University of Southern California for wrongful death.
Peng Wang, a student at Chapman University, was filming for a USC-approved project when the all-terrain vehicle he was traveling in was involved in an accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday.
His parents claim that the USC knew that the student teams would use off-road vehicles to fire in the desert and that it is responsible for the safety of its students on a project to be assessed in the classroom.
“Safety must trump everything in student film projects created to meet USC class requirements,” it said in the lawsuit, according to a South China Post report.
The cost of compensation claimed by Wang’s family has not been specified.
The lawsuit said the renowned university bears the “responsibility to return intact the people who make its films to their families”.
“USC is liable for the negligent failure to control and ensure security of the Final student film project. That negligence resulted in [Wang’s] death and resulting damages for which plaintiffs are filing a lawsuit to recover,” the student’s family said in the lawsuit over the project that listed Wang as director of photography.
University officials have denied responsibility for the deaths of its students. It had previously said that the cameraman and the other students had become villains in the making of the short film Final and were unaware of the approvals required to use off-road vehicles along with filming their project in a distant part of the desert that is three hours away.
The location of the shoot was more than 370 km (230 miles) from the USC campus, officials said.
In a statement shared on Tuesday, the school said: “USC was not responsible for Mr. Wang’s tragic death. We will share the facts about our robust security procedures and security reputation in court,” the SCMP report added.
The 29-year-old’s father, Hualun Wang, said he was left stunned after learning of his son’s death one morning in April.The Los Angeles Times.
“In life there is no greater pain than this kind of loss. After our son is gone, we have to endure all the pain, all the societal pressures and the pressure to take care of ourselves as we grow old,” Mr. Wang told the LA Daily in June.
Wang succumbed to his injuries on April 15, and the cause of death was listed as blunt neck trauma from the off-road accident.
His parents argued in the lawsuit that the varsity film school had approved a “student certificate” for the film submitted on April 5 and given it a production number.
The film crew had an accident after the driver of the vehicle lost control of the vehicle while the team was driving through the sand dunes. The vehicle rolled down one of the dunes and Wang, despite wearing a seat belt, was partially flung out in the accident, a police report said of the incident, the report said.
Wang’s family has said that an “experienced driver, or someone with the appropriate training, who is familiar with the dunes, would not have made this obvious mistake” in the official report.