Terracotta Warriors

ALLENTOWN – In a new class action lawsuit, a patron of the Franklin Institute has charged the museum with populating its notable “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor” exhibit with replicas and violating state law by depriving the public of the authentic experience it advertised.

Chien-Hui Lee, a citizen of Pennsylvania, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on March 26 versus the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia.

The “Terracotta Warriors” exhibit, which ran at the Franklin Institute from Sept. 30, 2017 until March 4, was the result of a landmark archaeological find in China in the 1970’s – when farmers digging wells found life-sized terracotta statues buried in the ground, statues built to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

Per Lee’s lawsuit, the statues contained in the Franklin Institute’s “Terracotta Warriors” exhibit were “replicas of historical artifacts” and that the marketing associated with publicizing the exhibit made no mention of the presence of replicas, thereby deceiving both her and the general public by “misleading customers about the nature of the experience of surveying the exhibit.”

“Through plaintiff counsel’s investigations, plaintiff counsel discovered that more than half of the life-sized sculptures in the exhibit were replicas of the terracotta sculptures found in Xi-An China and not the original sculptures found in the tomb of the ancient Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang,” the suit states.

Lee also claimed to have personally doubted the authenticity of the terracotta statues when touring the exhibit in February, and spoke with a security guard about her suspicions. The suit says that the security guard confirmed at that time that the statues were not authentic.

For counts of violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and common law fraud, the plaintiff is seeking extensive relief, consisting of at least $5 million in damages, in addition to the following:

• An order that this action be maintained as a class action and appointing plaintiff as representative of the nationwide class or, in the alternative, the Pennsylvania class; an order appointing the undersigned attorney as class counsel in this action;

• Restitution and disgorgement of all amounts obtained by defendant as a result of its misconduct, together with interest thereon from the date of payment, to the victims of such violations;

• All recoverable compensatory and other damages sustained by plaintiff and the class;

• Actual and/or statutory damages for injuries suffered by plaintiff and the class and in the maximum amount permitted by applicable law;

• An order enjoining defendant from continuing to misrepresent and conceal material information and conduct business via the unlawful, unfair and deceptive business acts and practices complained of herein; ordering defendant to engage in a corrective advertising campaign; and requiring defendant to reimburse plaintiff and all members of the class in an amount up to the purchase price of the ticket to the exhibit, of the accompanying audio equipment, and of the ticket to the accompanying IMAX movie;

• Statutory pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on any amounts;

• Payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs; and

• Such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper, plus a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by C.K. Lee of Lee Litigation Group, in New York, N.Y.

Court records show that the Franklin Institute has not responded to the lawsuit or yet secured counsel.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 5:18-cv-01266

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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