Although Annie Le’s GRD ’13 father and the couple who raised the slain pharmacology student do not support her estate’s wrongful death lawsuit against Yale, there may be no way for these relatives to put a stop to the litigation.
In a letter to the News, Annie’s father, Hoang Le, said he is not involved in the suit between his daughter’s estate and Yale. Two of Le’s friends and another of her relatives have also contacted the News since Sept. 9 to express their disagreement with the suit.
There has been no indication that Le left behind a will, and if that is the case, only her parents have the right to manage their child’s estate, according to two Connecticut attorneys. Annie’s mother, Vivian Le, has been the face of the lawsuit filed on behalf of her daughter’s estate.
But James Bui, Vivian Le’s brother and Annie Le’s uncle, says his sister does not speak for the family.
“I wish there’s something more I can do to prevent my sister, Vivian Le, from following through with this suit, but I’m only an uncle who loves his niece as if she was my own child,” Bui wrote to the News on Monday. “Legally, there’s nothing I myself can do to block my sister from going through with the suit.”
Bui and another family friend who asked not to be identified said Tuyet Bui and Robert Nguyen, the aunt and uncle who raised Annie also opposed the suit. Minh Nguyen, another uncle, said he is not involved with the complaint.
Vivian Le appeared last Friday on NBC’s Today Show alongside her lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, to discuss the case.
Although James Bui’s status as Le’s uncle leaves him with little legal recourse to change the course of the lawsuit, New Haven trial attorney Raymond Kotulski said, other members of Le’s family could disrupt the pending suit against Yale. If Le’s father were to submit an objection in Connecticut probate court, Kotulski said, a judge might decide to stop the suit.
Yet, even if Hoang Le were to change his mind about intervening and argue that the estate’s court-appointed administrator — attorney Glorie Romaniello of Waterbury’s Moynahan and Minnello — was not acting in the best interest of the estate, there is no guarantee that he would be successful. Kotulski said a judge would have to equally weigh the estate’s chance of winning its case against Yale with the wishes of Vivian and Hoang Le.
“In the end, I think the judge would probably let the suit proceed,” Kotulski said.
Although they had a close connection to Le, Kotulski said the couple who raised Le does not have any legal control of the affairs of her estate.
When the estate’s lawsuit was filed last Tuesday, University Spokesman Tom Conroy said University administrators felt they did all they could for the Le family at the time of Annie’s death in September 2009.
“Yale had a great deal of contact with the [Le] family members when it supported them at the time of the tragedy, so we sympathize with Mr. [James] Bui’s continued grieving,” University Spokesman Tom Conroy wrote in an email to the News Tuesday. “As you know, the only person who has publicly supported the lawsuit is Annie Le’s estranged mother.”
In the complaint filed on behalf of the estate, Romaniello asks for unspecified damages “significantly greater” than the minimum damages of $15,000 needed to qualify the case to be heard in Connecticut Superior Court.