MISSOURI BECOMES FIRST STATE TO SUE CHINA, CITING COVID-19 “DECEIT”
BY LUIS MIGUEL
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research
Missouri on Tuesday became the first state to sue China for damages related to “the enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil” resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, for which the state holds China responsible.
Filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, the suit follows a number of federal class-action cases by private groups, including one in which a Florida group claims China knew “COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up in their own economic self-interest.”
It also comes after 22 Republican members of Congress Monday urged the White House to bring China to the International Court of Justice (ICIJ).
Officials familiar with the matter informed Fox News that the state’s economic shutdown has cost Missouri approximately $44 billion, in addition to the 5,963 COVID-19 cases and 215 deaths the state has experienced.
“In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real — thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a statement.
The lawsuit’s text makes clear that the plaintiffs hold China responsible for the outbreak. “The repeated unlawful and unreasonable acts and omissions of” China, Missouri’s lawsuit reads, “have been injurious to — and have significantly interfered with — the lives, health, and safety of substantial numbers of Missouri residents, ruining lives and damaging the public order and economy of the State of Missouri.”
Sources say that beyond extracting financial reparations from the communist nation, Missouri hopes to bring to light facts about how China handled the pandemic and even about the virus’ origin. “An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction by Chinese authorities unleashed this pandemic,” the suit continues.
During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment — thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.
Among the several claims of wrongdoing leveled at China within the suit is the accusation of an “emerging theory on the origin of the virus ... that it was released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying the virus.”
Officials are becoming increasingly convinced that the coronavirus escaped into the general population from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The United States has launched a full investigation to determine whether that is the case.
The Missouri suit seeks to demonstrate how China’s actions led to the viral outbreak and how its government worsened the spread, in part by failing to properly alert the world community about the true nature of the virus’ human-to-human transmission at the onset.
Another overarching allegation put forward in the suit is that China worked to hoard personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for treating coronavirus patients, which led to it “going 'from being a net exporter of personal protective equipment, as it is the largest producer in the world, to a net importer.'”
The suit, led by Schmitt, names a number of other defendants in addition to the People’s Republic of China, such as various state agencies and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is listed in an effort to go around restrictions placed by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).
The FSIA limits Americans’ ability to sue foreign governments. Missouri officials hope that by suing the CCP along with the official government, they will be able to avoid FSIA hurdles. They also maintain that their suit meets certain FSIA exceptions, such as one for commercial activity.
The commercial activity exceptions are also being attempted by at least two private-class actions suits against China. A law firm involved in one of those suits praised Missouri’s efforts.
“This filing by the state Attorney General of Missouri demonstrates the validity of our class action lawsuits vs. People's Republic of China, the CCP and other entities,” said Jeremy Alters of the Berman Law Group. “Our case is about holding China, the CCP and others accountable in Court. It will take all of us united to right this horrible wrong, and together we will.”
The suit calls on the defendants to “cease engaging in the abnormally dangerous activities, reimburse the cost of the State's abatement efforts, and pay compensatory and other damages.”
Backlash against China has grown in the United States, where many lawmakers, particularly Republicans, seek to hold the authoritarian state accountable.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has gone so far as to introduce legislation that would amend FSIA to make it easier for Americans to sue China. “By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe,” Cotton said in a statement. “