USC files lawsuit against YouTube prank personalities

The university’s suit requests compensatory damages after the prank video creators disturbed a class.

USC has filed a lawsuit in hopes of temporarily banning two YouTubers from campus after they disrupted a Holocaust lecture to make a prank video on March 29.

Students stormed out of the classroom following the incident in Mark Taper Hall, and Los Angeles Police Department officers arrested two of the suspects at gunpoint, according to the lawsuit.

The university cited dangerous and reckless conduct targeting students and faculty while taking over lectures as the main reason for the suit. USC is asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would prevent the defendants from entering all campuses, medical centers, residences and all other university properties in the county, according to the suit. The university is also asking for compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and other compensation for the cost of the lawsuit.

The defendants, Earnest Kanevsky, who goes by Eric Kanevsky on his YouTube channel, and Yuoguo Bai, have filmed several prank videos on the University Park Campus and disrupted classes beginning in 2021, according to the lawsuit. At least two videos of Kanevsky interrupting other classes in Taper Hall seem to have been deleted, including one named in the lawsuit where he dressed up as a character from “Squid Game” and another included in a “FUNNIEST PRANKS OF 2021″ recap video.

The suit also states that, in the class, Bai pretended to be a student, while Kanevsky walked in later dressed in all black with a silver briefcase, pretending to be a Russian Mafia member attempting to take money from Bai. Kanevksy then asked if anyone named Hugo Boss was in the room, leading Bai to say that he was Boss, according to the suit.

A voice on Kanevsky’s phone yelled expletives at Bai, further interrupting the lecture and causing students to panic, the suit stated. Students began fleeing the classroom in fear when Kanevsky moved to the front of the classroom and told Bai that his father owed him $50,000, according to the suit.

The class’s professor, Benjamin Ratskoff, said in the suit that he was worried during the prank by the defendants’ references to Hugo Boss, a Nazi supporter and fashion designer. In an email to students previously obtained by Annenberg Media, Ratskoff said that he is in touch with the university about ensuring a similar disturbance doesn’t happen again.

“While it appears that the event was a part of some kind of prank, the intrusion naturally created panic, as lectures on the Holocaust, antisemitism, and racism have previously been targets for harassment and violence,” Ratskoff previously wrote in an email to Annenberg Media. “I myself made the split-second decision that it was better to follow those fleeing students rather than to wait and see if this was indeed a prank.”