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Mother of Baruch Student Who Died in Hazing Ritual Plans To Sue for $25M

 Baruch freshman Chun Hsien
Baruch freshman Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng died on Dec 9, 2013 after he was injured during a Pi Delta Psi fraternity ritual, officials said.
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Facebook/Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Bronx High School for Science

NEW YORK — The mother of the Baruch College student who died during a fraternity ritual in the Poconos more than a year ago plans to sue the college for $25 million, court documents show.

Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng, who was a pledgling for Baruch's Pi Delta Psi fraternity, was killed during a fraternity trip to the Poconos on Dec. 8, 2013 — when he was forced to participate in a ritual that involved him carrying a backpack full of sand while members tackled him.

Deng died of a major brain trauma and the medical examiner deemed it a homicide. But, more than a year later, chief of the Poconos Police Department Chris Wagner said no arrests have been made.

Deng's mother, Xiu Fen Liu, is trying to file a claim against Baruch College for wrongful death and personal injuries.

After her original claim was rejected in October 2014 for incomplete paperwork, Justice Alan C. Martin ruled on March 11, 2015, to allow Liu to file a late claim.

The decision was filed with the New York State Court of Claims on April 8 and Liu has 45 days from then to file a claim. As of Tuesday morning, it had not yet been filed, according to a spokeswoman for the state court of claims office.

The claim filed in October blames Baruch College for Deng's death, citing its "negligence in failing to warn of or prevent the Pi Delta Psi fraternity's traditional act of hazing."

Baruch has information regarding the fraternity's disciplinary record and is obligated to supervise its activities, the claim states.

"Baruch College knew about dangerous traditions and hazing in the Pi Delta Psi fraternity and failed to stop such traditions, warn incoming pledges such as Michael, or undertake other duties required by the law," the claim states.

Liu could not be reached for comment and her lawyer did not return calls. Baruch did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Following Deng's death, Baruch pointed out that the fraternity trip was unsanctioned and then permanently banned Pi Delta Psi, a national Asian-American fraternity that started a Baruch chapter in 2010.

"Michael's death is a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy," Baruch College said in a statement on December 11, 2013.

Deng, who was an 18-year-old freshman studying finance at Baruch, attended a trip to a rented home in the Poconos with about 30 fraternity members on Dec. 8, 2013.

During a hazing ritual called "glass ceiling," where he was blindfolded and tackled while bearing a backpack full of sand, Deng was knocked unconscious.

Members of the fraternity didn't call 911, but took Deng to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where he died. They changed his clothes, searched his symptoms online and looked up nearby hospitals before taking him, reports said. 

Deng "suffered severe personal injuries and conscious pain and suffering, including severe beatings," the claim states.

The time of the incident was not immediately clear, but the hospital called police at roughly 8:15 a.m. on Dec. 8, according to a New York Times report.

Pennsylvania's Monroe County District Attorney's office, which is investigating the case, would not respond to repeated requests for information.

Deng's family also filed a lawsuit against the fraternity, accusing them of covering up their wrong doing, according to an NBC report. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed with the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas on Monday, the report said.

Before college, Deng attended the elite Bronx High School of Science.

"He was a very nice boy," said Kenny Choi, 70, who lives next door to Deng's mother in Oakland Gardens, Queens, where Deng also lived. "He said hello all the time. He worked very hard. He studied all the time.

"It's a tragedy. [Michael's mother] is still very sad. She's having a hard time living in the house. This is all very sad."