Amazon and Penn cannot strike a negligence suit filed against them for the death of an undergraduate Nursing student, a Pennsylvania state judge ruled last week.
The decision denied an attempt by Amazon and Penn to dismiss the case in September, in which they argued that Pennsylvania state law did not allow the defendants to be found liable in instances of suicide. The next hearing date is set for an evidence discovery hearing on Dec. 23 at Philadelphia City Hall.
The original complaint was filed against the University and Amazon on behalf of Nursing student Arya Singh, who died in Feb. 2013 by suicide in her dorm room.
The lawsuit blames Amazon for allowing her to purchase the soluble cyanide salts online that she used to kill herself. It alleges that there have been 51 purchases of these types of salts online that have resulted in 11 deaths, even though Amazon had some policies in place to prevent such sales.
Penn was named as a defendant due to alleged “unsympathetic, hostile and at times vindictive” behavior that administrators showed towards Singh, according to court documents. In 2011, Singh reported being sexually assaulted in her dorm room as a freshman by another student. Her case was not pursued by the district attorney, but the University took steps to isolate Singh from her alleged assaulter.
The complaint targets the University for negligence in pursuing her case due to the changeover in the sexual assault investigating procedures over the last year.
Singh became depressed and began drinking heavily as a result of the trauma of her assault, which resulted in Singh being placed on academic probation in Jan. 2013 and facing other student conduct offenses. She was asked to leave University housing on Feb. 8 of that year, and she was found unconscious in her dorm room that day and was not able to be revived.
Mental health has continued to be an ongoing conversation among Penn students and administrators, who, after Singh, came to see a string of six student suicides occur within 15 months.
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