Update: Student abandoned in cell by DEA sues for $20 million

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Daniel Chong, the San Diego college student who was left abandoned in a cell without food or water for five days by the DEA, filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking $20 million in damages, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

As soon as Daniel Chong’s story broke yesterday, (after we’d processed our shock and outrage, of course) the inter-office banter turned toward one inevitability: this kid is going to sue the living shit out of the government. And he’s going to win.

The question became, How much? Surely it’d be a life-changing amount, as is only fair—Chong endured a life-changing ordeal. His lawsuit claims that his treatment amounts to torture, and he’s right. “The deprivation of food and water for four and one-half days while the person is handcuffed the entire time constitutes torture under both international and domestic law,” the claim says. Chong was reportedly so distressed during his deprivation that, convinced he was being left to die, he tried to kill himself by breaking his glasses and slicing his wrists.

Discussing Chong’s ordeal yesterday the question inevitably arose that we’ve all entertained in conversation a thousand times: How much would it take for you to endure that willingly? Would $20 million be enough? As one co-worker put it, “Five days of torture for a lifetime of pleasure?”

Of course, none of us can really imagine what it would be like to be in that cell and not know if you were coming out. The mental anguish is probably unfathomable, and probably something we’d all gladly trade $20 million to avoid.

At any rate, hopefully Chong will spend the rest of his days living lavishly as a penance for the DEA.