- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A California couple held in Qatar for nearly two years before being cleared in the death of their 8-year-old adopted daughter has sued the engineering firm that sent them overseas.

Matt and Grace Huang filed the suit for negligence, wrongful termination and infliction of emotional distress against MWH Global on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Los Angeles Times reported (https://lat.ms/1uex2bs ).

The Huangs were arrested in Qatar in 2013 on charges of starving their African-born adopted daughter, Gloria. They said she had an eating disorder caused by giardiasis, a parasitic infection that causes vomiting and loss of appetite.

The couple, originally from the Los Angeles suburb of Temple City, spent nearly a year in jail. An appeals court finally overturned their child-endangerment convictions and they were allowed to leave Qatar last week.

MWH, a Colorado-based engineering company, had sent Matt Huang, a civil engineer, to help improve Qatar’s drainage system ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer games.

In the lawsuit, the Huangs contend that MWH failed to provide security or cultural training in a country where adoption is illegal, mixed-race families are not accepted and people of East Asian descent are held in contempt.

Matt Huang said he was physically and sexually attacked while in prison. The suit claims that MWH abandoned the couple and fired Huang.

The Huangs had to sell their home and were left more than $2 million in debt because of their legal fight, according to the lawsuit.

“It’s very important to Matt and Grace to set a precedent - to make sure there’s some sort of guidance for companies sending employees to dangerous places,” said their attorney, William Turner.

“It’s a true nightmare that they don’t want others to experience,” he said.

In a statement, MWH said it provided assistance within hours of the couple’s detention and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Matt Huang’s defense.

“MWH met with U.S. Embassy officials, helped arrange legal counsel, checked in on the welfare of Matt and Grace and their children and attended initial court hearings,” the statement said.

The company also denied firing Matt Huang. It offered him a leave of absence but he decided to resign, the statement said.


Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com

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