The Warmbier family alleges that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government is liable for the 22-year-old's death.
"In an attempt to extract various concessions from the United States government, North Korea detained Otto, forced him to falsely 'confess' to an act of subversion on behalf of the United States government, tortured him, kept him in detention for a year and a half without allowing him to communicate with his family, and returned him to them in a non-responsive state and brain dead," according to a complaint filed by plaintiffs Cynthia and Frederick Warmbier. The lawsuit was filed Thursday, April 26.
The University of Virginia student died June 17, 2017 at a hospital in Cincinnati. He intended to visit North Korea on a tourist trip for five days. Instead, he was accused of stealing a piece of North Korean propaganda material and jailed for 17 months.
"As a direct and proximate result of North Korea's actions, Otto died at 22, mere days after his release," according to the legal documents filed with the federal district court in Washington, District of Columbia on Thursday. Pyongyang has denied responsibility for the US national's death.
"North Korea, which is a rogue regime, took Otto hostage for its own wrongful ends and brutally tortured and murdered him," the lawsuit stated.
United States President Donald Trump and Kim are expected to meet in the coming weeks to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.