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Family Of UF Student Files Lawsuit Against University After Suicide


The family of a UF student has filed a lawsuit against the university after their son took his own life. According to the family, the student was despondent over a situation with a professor. Since the University of Florida is a government institution, the family will have to tiptoe through sovereign immunity rules.

Suicide-related lawsuits are very difficult to win. Even in cases of severe bullying, or even encouragement of suicide, many states have no legal infrastructure for managing these claims. Most states do not allow plaintiffs to file lawsuits based on emotional distress alone. It is unclear that anyone other than the deceased can be held responsible for a self-inflicted injury.

The student was found hanged in a university laboratory in June of 2019. He left behind notes detailing a squabble he had with a university professor accusing him of abusive behavior and professional misconduct. The student claimed the professor had engaged in a pattern of abuse, harassment, intimidation, and threats. According to the lawsuit, the university knew about both professor’s misconduct and the student’s threat to commit suicide. The parents blame the university for not intervening.

The professor’s divorce 

Shortly after this incident, the professor divorced his wife leaving her 100% of the couple’s estate. This, obviously, is rare and raises significant eyebrows. One would guess that the professor was leveraged by his wife who had some delicate information concerning the abuse of the student. If so, then attorneys for the plaintiffs will be targeting her and the terms of their divorce.

Meanwhile, locating the professor has been difficult. It is not known whether he has returned to China or is still somewhere stateside. The divorce papers include terminology for a “long-distance parenting plan” but that is the only clue anyone has that the professor may be elsewhere.

The tenured professor was required to resign under pressure from the university.

Issues between student and professor 

The professor claims that the student had ample opportunity to report issues with the university and instead chose to kill himself. The disagreement stemmed from the student’s paper which his professor considered “problematic”. The professor has gone on the attack accusing the student’s friends of failing to respond to his deteriorating emotional state. Friends surrounding the deceased have declined to speak amid legal pressure from the professor. The professor was also facing pressure from academics related to the falsification of data in his papers.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence or malice of another individual, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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