Preventing Student Suicide: The Anatomy of a Lawsuit

On September 12, 2015, Luke Tang, a sophomore at Harvard College committed suicide in the basement of his dormitory, Lowell House. HBMHlaw has been retained by the Estate of Luke Tang to pursue a wrongful death action against the President and Fellows of Harvard College and individuals alleged to be responsible for Luke’s death.

Given the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent ruling in Nguyen v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 479 Mass. 436 (2018), (another case handled by HBMHlaw), the attorneys at HBMHlaw believe the evidence will show that Harvard and its employees failed to take reasonable and appropriate steps to prevent this tragedy.  In the Nguyen decision, the SJC held that where a university or its employees have actual knowledge of a student’s prior suicide attempt while enrolled at the college, the college and employees have a special relationship with the student and a corresponding duty to take reasonable measures to protect the student from self-harm. Luke Tang attempted suicide at Harvard during his freshman year and the lawsuit filed alleges that Harvard and its employees failed to obey the requirements set forth in the Nguyen decision.

For most people involved in lawsuits, the thought of litigation is daunting and viewed as the great unknown.  Lawsuits are complicated, time consuming and have many twists and turns.   It is the intention of HBMHlaw in the coming days to launch a new webpage designed to provide a real-world example of such litigation to educate those who might be considering bringing such a claim as to what to expect and what such a lawsuit involves.  People interested in learning about the process will have real-time access to all public filings and all discovery conducted in the case from interrogatories (written questions) and documents exchanged to deposition testimony.  Further, there are often times when the lawyers disagree about how the case should proceed or what they need to disclose to the other side.  These disputes typically result in one party filing a motion with the court to have the court order the other party to do, or stop them from doing something they want to occur.  HBMHlaw will provide access to all phases of the litigation process in an attempt to share with people what actually occurs during the time their case is in the court system.

By way of introduction, once a lawsuit is filed, the court issues what is called a “Tracking Order” which sets deadlines for certain events on the case and a tentative schedule for other events.

You can see the Complaint filed in the Tang matter and the Tracking Order issued here: ComplaintTracking Order 9.11.18

The lawyers at HBMHlaw invite you to follow the course of a wrongful death case through the litigation process and the Tang case specifically.  If you have any questions about how HBMHlaw may be able to help you or your family, please contact them to discuss your situation.