USC and two students sued by parents of Chapman student who died on film set

The student died in a joint student production in April 2022.

The parents of Peng (Aaron) Wang, who died in April on a student film shoot, filed a lawsuit on September 19 against USC and two USC students, Ting Su and Biangliang Li, accusing them of negligence which they said resulted in their son’s death.

Wang, a 29-year-old graduate student at Chapman University, was serving as a cameraman for a film shoot for the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Glamis Dunes, California, on a joint-team of Chapman and USC students when he was killed in an off-road vehicle crash.

USC recently said in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Times that the university was “not responsible for Mr. Wang’s tragic death,” adding that it would share “the facts about our robust safety procedures and safety record in court.”

The lawsuit alleges that USC was “negligent” in its management of the film shoot, while defendants Ting Su, the student director and driver of the vehicle, and Biangliang Li, the student producer, “were so negligent in their provision of planning, control and safety in regard to the approval and filming of [student film] that they negligently allowed the operation of, and negligently operated, the [ATV] without ensuring proper training and without ensuring that [Wang] was adequately protected.”

According to documents included in the lawsuit, SCA’s Student Production Office gave its stamp of approval to Su, certifying its permission to go ahead with the shoot, though the certification did not specify the location of the shoot or the inclusion of an off-road vehicle.

USC, in a statement within the lawsuit, said, “any shoot taking place more than 50 miles away from our campus, or involving the use of all-terrain vehicles, would have required very specific approvals from the school,” and “[we] are unaware of any such approvals having been requested or provided in this tragic matter.”

While not a USC student, there was what the lawsuit called a “special relationship between USC and [Wang].”

“This entailed a duty to ensure USC film projects are conducted safely,” the lawsuit said.

Wang’s parents are demanding a trial by jury to settle the case.