The University of Pennsylvania and Amazon.com are being sued by the mother of a student who killed herself in 2013 with cyanide she allegedly purchased through the online retailer.
Arya Singh, 20, a junior in the School of Nursing, died Feb. 8, 2013, after ingesting soluble cyanide crystals in her dorm room.
Singh's life began to unravel after an alleged sexual assault in 2011 by a male student that she reported to authorities, the suit says. No charges were filed against the student, and he remained on campus.
In the two years that followed, Singh increasingly failed to show up for classes. On one occasion, she was arrested and hospitalized for alcohol intoxication. She was subject to multiple academic and misconduct investigations.
"Despite Arya's problems, university employees' conduct toward her was unsympathetic, hostile, and at times vindictive," the suit says.
Singh purchased the cyanide Dec. 7, 2012.
The lawsuit alleges that cyanide products were sold through Amazon at least 51 times to customers in the United States before Singh's purchase.
Of those 51 sales, at least 11 resulted in the death of the purchaser, according to the suit.
On Feb. 2, 2013, Amazon began blocking sales of cyanide products, the suit says.
Andrew K. Garden, a lawyer representing Amazon in the case, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Penn spokesman Ron Ozio said the university also does not comment on pending litigation.
Using a debit card, Singh purchased the cyanide, listed under the product category "kitchen," from a vendor in Thailand, the suit says. Amazon processed and kept a portion of the payment.
The cyanide was delivered Dec. 18 in a small envelope to the package room of the Rodin College House, where Singh lived, the suit says.
A disciplinary hearing for Singh was scheduled on Feb. 8, 2013, stemming from an academic misconduct investigation, according to the suit. The university placed her in a status that prevented her from registering for classes for the spring semester.
Because she could not register for classes, she was told, she had to vacate her campus house. She had sought to stay in her dorm until the hearing. According to the suit, the hearing was canceled but she was never notified.
Around noon on Feb. 8, a university employee went to Singh's room and told her that she had to move out immediately, according to the suit.
Around 3 p.m. that day, Singh's roommate found her unresponsive. Singh was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead that night.
The lawsuit alleges that the university failed numerous times to provide support to Singh as her life deteriorated and at times appeared to be antagonistic to her.
As she was getting into more trouble at the university, one official allegedly wrote in an email: "I have no sympathy for her [Arya Singh] - she deserves anything you dish out to her. Sorry not more sympathetic . . . needless to say I will not be serving as her adviser."
The complaint, filed in July in Common Pleas Court, also names as defendants a citizen of Thailand and his company, which sold the cyanide.