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As Students Return to UPenn Campus, Suit Against UPenn for Failure to Adequately Respond to Suicidal Student’s Pleas for Help Moves Forward

September 5, 2018

A lawsuit filed by Feldman Shepherd on behalf of a University of Pennsylvania student who committed suicide after crying out for help nine times to university officials and not receiving any meaningful response is moving forward with a projected trial date of May 4, 2020.

Feldman Shepherd attorneys Carol Nelson Shepherd, Patricia M. Giordano and Andrew K. Mitnick filed a lawsuit on April 10, 2018, against the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of the parents of student Ao “Olivia” Kong who committed suicide on April 11, 2016, by lying on train tracks in front of an oncoming passenger train in Philadelphia. In the days preceding her death, Olivia repeatedly told university officials that she was stressed by her coursework and suicidal. But instead of immediately helping Olivia, the university shuffled her through a bureaucracy of multiple departments and individuals.

In a case management conference this summer, the judge set a projected settlement conference date of Feb. 3, 2020 and a projected pre-trial conference date of April 6, 2020.

Olivia was the 12th University of Pennsylvania student since 2009 to commit suicide. Since 2013, 14 Penn students have died of suicide.

“When a student seeks help from her university because she is feeling overwhelmed, that school must have an effective system in place to provide counseling and other resources to support that young person.  Otherwise, tragedies like Olivia Kong’s will continue to occur,” Nelson Shepherd said. “With this lawsuit, we hope to bring attention to this serious problem, and we look forward to the trial of this important case in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.”

To read more about the lawsuit or to download a copy of the complaint click here


  • Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock Dodig LLP attorneys are licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. In addition, our attorneys practice in other states on a pro hac vice basis. Pro hac vice admission is when a lawyer not licensed in a particular state associates with a lawyer who is licensed in that state and obtains the court’s permission to jointly represent a client in a specific matter.