Amazon, US University Sued Over Indian-Origin Student’s Death

New York: Online giant Amazon and the University of Pennsylvania have been sued by the mother of an Indian-origin girl student who committed suicide over two years ago by consuming cyanide purchased from the retailer, according to media reports.

The 20-year-old nursing student at the university, had reported an alleged sexual assault by a male student in 2011, but no charges were filed and he remained on campus, leading to a two-year downward spiral culminating in her cyanide suicide in 2013, the lawsuit said.

After that, she showed troubling behaviour at school, missing classes and getting arrested for alcohol intoxication, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Despite her problems, university employees’ conduct toward her was unsympathetic, hostile, and at times vindictive,” the suit says.

One school official allegedly wrote in an email she had “no sympathy” for her and said the student “deserves anything you dish out to her”.

In December, 2012, she ordered cyanide crystals from Amazon through a vendor in Thailand, who had listed it as a “kitchen” item, said the suit filed in late July that also names the vendor and his company as defendants.

By the spring 2013 semester, she was being investigated for academic misconduct. She was barred from registering for classes, and ordered to leave her dorm while awaiting a hearing for the misconduct.

On February 8, 2013, the day of the hearing, her roommate found her unresponsive in their dorm, and she was pronounced dead hours later.

Amazon offered cyanide for sale until February 2, 2013, just days before her death and before that, the poison had been purchased more than 50 times by customers in the US, resulting in at least 11 deaths besides her, according to the suit.

The New York Daily News reported that Amazon did not return requests for the comment, and representatives from the university said the school does not comment on pending litigation. Calls to a number listed for her family were also not returned.