Tianjin woman who sues 'kind driver' Xu Yunhe jeered outside court

Updated: 24 Aug 2011
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Wang Xiuzhi and her relatives came under virtual siege once she emerged in a wheelchair from Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Monday afternoon, August 22, 2011. [Photo: CFP]

Xu Yunhe (C) was seen outside the Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People's Court after the trial on Monday, August 22, 2011. [Photo: CFP]
A woman who sued a man for knocking her down with his car was jeered by onlookers when she came out of court on Monday, as people blamed her for twisting the facts and framing the man.

Wang Xiuzhi and her relatives came under virtual siege once she emerged in a wheelchair from Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People's Court in the afternoon. A taxi driver drew praise from the gathered onlookers when he refused to give Wang and her relatives a ride. The cabbie said he was showing support for the defendant, Xu Yunhe, according to pictures posted on Tianya.cn by a netizen called Adingshuoshi.

Wang illegally crossed the guardrail along the road, then fell to the ground in October 2009 in the northern city of Tianjin. She suffered multiple bone fractures.

Xu was convicted and assigned 40 percent responsibility for the accident even though the court never determined that he hit Wang. He was ordered to pay over 100,000 yuan (US$15,632) in compensation to Wang, according to the original judgment handed down by a district court in June.

The court said traffic authorities couldn't conclude whether Xu hit Wang with his car or not. But it said that even if Xu's car stopped 4-5 meters in front of Wang, the woman was frightened by the approaching car and fell down.

Wang violated traffic rules by crossing the guardrail and thus took major responsibility for the accident, the court ruled.

Xu appealed the ruling, insisting he was innocent.

He said he stopped the car after he saw Wang fall down in front of him. He got out to pull her up and gave her his mobile phone to call her relatives. But the first sentences Wang uttered into the phone were, "I was hit by a car. Come to help me," according to Xu.
Wang presented a whole different story. She said Xu knocked her down with his car, causing the injuries.

The appeals court hearing is continuing.

The district court's original ruling sparked an outrage among people who said they won't offer help to others in need, for fear of getting sued.

"I do sympathize with victims in most of the cases, but will be reluctant to offer help to avoid being drawn into any dispute," said Zhi Bingzhe, a Shanghai office worker.

The case rekindled people's interest in a similar incident in Nanjing in 2007 when a young man, Peng Yu, helped a fallen old woman to get up but she insisted that it was Peng who knocked her down and sued him for compensation.

Eventually, the court in Nanjing ordered Peng to pay the woman 45,000 yuan.

In Shanghai, a male foreigner was the only person to help a man apparently having an epileptic fit in a subway train last week, while Chinese passengers stood by, but the patient was later found a "professional scammer."

The Shanghai case sparked outrage among web users, with many angrily accusing Chinese people of being indifferent to the plight of others. But once the apparent scam came to light, many then said they would be more likely to also stand by if they were on the scene.

"Our benevolences are being worn down by those who bite the hands that feed them," a local housewife, Tang Shunjun, said on her microblog.

Another local woman surnamed Hu said she had witnessed an old man falling down from a bus in Shanghai last week, but no passer-by went to help him until he shouted, "I will blame nobody for my falling."
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