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December 3, 2019

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Mother gets damages for claims over daughter

The mother of a 3-year-old girl who died from cancer last year has been awarded 10,000 yuan (US$1,423) compensation from a writer who accused the family of child abuse and misusing funds people had raised.

Chen Lan was also ordered to apologize on her Sina Weibo account.

The Minhang District People’s Court heard that Wang Fengya had been diagnosed with cancer in November 2017 by a hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan Province.

To raise money for medical treatment, her mother, Yang Meiqin, sought help online.

Later, however, questions were raised about how the money was being used and Yang received lots of critical messages.

Some of them were from Chen, who has hundreds of thousands of followers. Between April and June last year, Chen made several comments on Weibo accusing the family of abusing the girl and saying that she hadn’t received any treatment.

Wang died in May last year and her grandfather, Wang Taiyou, donated the 1,000 yuan or more that remained to a charity.

On May 25, according to some news reports, police confirmed that the family had raised more than 30,000 yuan from an online funding platform and over 2,000 yuan from WeChat red packets and rewards from video streaming.

Police said it wasn’t a criminal case as there was no evidence to indicate fraud or child abuse.

On September 4, the mother and grandfather sued Chen for posting false statements and misleading others to post negative comments. They felt their reputation had been damaged and demanded Chen stop the posts and pay 170,000 yuan compensation for mental suffering, and medical and attorney fees. They wanted Chen to apologize in newspapers in Henan and Shanghai and on her Weibo account.

Chen said she hadn’t intended to hurt the couple and all her online statements had sources.

After she confirmed the statements were false, she said, she had deleted them and made a public apology.

The court said Chen was an online celebrity with a large number of followers. Although she had the right to comment on social issues and the information in her postings had sources, her accusations were not proper and should be considered as reputation infringement.

The court said Chen should apologize to Yang on her Weibo and pay her 5,000 yuan for mental suffering and another 5,000 yuan for attorney fees.


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