URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The administrator for Yingying Zhang’s estate is suing two UI social workers for wrongful death and negligence.
The lawsuit claims the social workers’ lack of action may be to blame for Zhang’s death. The lawsuit details Brendt Christensen’s mental health treatment through the UI’s counseling center.
It claims the social workers should have reported him. In 2017, the lawsuit states Christensen was open about many of his struggles with mental health.
Struggles that, if reported, could have prevented Zhang’s death. But, the lawsuit maintains it was all kept under wraps.
Just one day before Brendt Christensen’s murder trial, the administrator of his alleged victim filed a lawsuit.
It details Christensen’s treatment at the counseling center and claims Christensen talked to social workers Jennifer Maupin and Thomas Miebach multiple times.
During those visits, he brought up multiple mental health issues, including self-harm, alcohol abuse and suicidal-homicidal ideation. It says he also reported taking medication to help him sleep and for depression.
The lawsuit claims the social workers “failed to treat Defendant Christensen’s symptoms to necessary resolution” and Miebach and Maupin “encouraged Defendant Christensen that he will not be arrested, punished.”
University representatives claim they haven’t even been told about the lawsuit.
“We have not received any formal notification of this litigation, but we will review any filings and respond appropriately.”
The filing also references a search of Christensen’s phone which shows he visited a web forum called Abduction 101, in April 2017, which included threads discussing “perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping.”
It’s important to note, this lawsuit is a separate case, but it could also complicate Christensen’s criminal case.
The defense said Tuesday they’ll be submitting a new piece of evidence in connection to the lawsuit. It’s not known what the new evidence will be, only that it’s connected.
The estate is suing two social workers at the University of Illinois Counseling Center for wrongful death and negligence.
The lawsuit also names Brendt Christensen.
The estate is seeking damages to be determined at trial on each of the counts.