Missouri, Mississippi, and Others Sue China Over 2019 Novel Coronavirus
Additionally, Lynn Fitch — who is the attorney general, chief legal officer, and advisor for the State of Mississippi on both civil and criminal matters — announced via this official press release on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 to hold China “accountable for the malicious and dangerous acts that caused death, health injuries, and serious economic loss from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Other states — such as Florida — are planning to sue China as well. “I saw that Missouri lawsuit,” said Ron DeSantis — who is the current governor of Florida — according to this article written by Mike Vasilinda for WJXT News4Jax and WCWJ Channel 17 in Jacksonville. “I want to see if Florida can be involved in that. You see what a disaster this has caused. It is because of their malevolence, so they had opportunities to deal with this. They didn’t do it — they covered it up.”
In the Missouri Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Chinese government, the key factual allegations are that in the critical weeks between December 2019 and January 23, 2020, the Chinese Government engaged in misrepresentations, concealment, and retaliation to conceal the gravity and seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak from the rest of the world.
Denying the risk of human-to-human transmission. The first known case of human-to-human transmission occurred in early December. By late December, Chinese health officials had plenty of evidence of human-to-human transmission. On December 30, Chinese doctors at Wuhan hospitals posted on social media that they were observing human-to-human transmission. Until January 20, Chinese officials continued to insist that there was no evidence of human transmission — denying solid evidence to the contrary. Additionally, Chinese officials failed to report the potential for human-to-human transmission to the World Health Organization for weeks.
Silencing of whistleblowers. Between January 1 and 3, 2020, Chinese officials arrested eight doctors and forcibly silenced them as “rumor-mongers” — an action that was broadcast on state media, likely to deter others from speaking out. One doctor at a Wuhan emergency room was disciplined when she told her staff to wear masks when dealing with patients, fearing human-to-human transmission. Additionally, there were reports of journalists covering the outbreak who disappeared.
Failing to contain the outbreak. While denying human-to-human transmission, Chinese officials took little to no steps to contain the outbreak. By January 13, the Chinese government was aware of spread to Thailand. For the next week, they began treating COVID-19 as a serious and contagious virus without advising the public. During that time, millions of people traveled through Wuhan, and many thousands were infected, making a worldwide outbreak almost inevitable. A potluck event for 40,000 people went forward in Wuhan on January 16. The Chinese government took no serious steps to contain the outbreak until January 23—when it was far too late.
Hoarding personal protective equipment. Reports indicate that Chinese officials, while they were concealing the outbreak, began hoarding quality PPE while permitting only defective PPE to be exported to the rest of the world. This hoarding endangered the lives of health care workers and first responders in other countries.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused hardship in Missouri and across the globe — death, isolation from sick and dying loved ones, massive unemployment, economic dislocation, uncertainty, and trillions of dollars of economic losses. China should be held legally responsible.
Other Lawsuits Pending Against China
In addition to an increasing number of states in the United States which are filing lawsuits against China — as well as the aforementioned class action lawsuit of 8 trillion dollars — other class action lawsuits have been filed against China as well.
Even though none of the five plaintiffs in Florida have caught the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, they filed a class action lawsuit challenging the handling of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic by the Chinese government, claiming that people throughout the state of Florida — as well as people throughout the United States — were injured even if they have not been infected. They argue that the Chinese government waited 17 days to share the 19 genome sequence of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus with peers around the world — after it had been discovered by Chinese researchers. This class action lawsuit is known as Logan Alters, et al. v. People’s Republic of China, et al., Case No. 1:20-cv-21108-UU, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.
A group of medical professionals have filed a class action lawsuit against China, claiming the country is stockpiling personal protective equipment during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic; and that the country is forbidding factories — including those owned by United States companies — from sending personal protective equipment to the United States. This class action lawsuit is known as Moriah Aharon, et al. v. Chinese Communist Party, et al., Case No. 9:20-cv-80604, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
That class action lawsuits have sprouted as a result of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic before it has even shown any signs of ending anytime soon is of no surprise to me at all. In fact, I expected it as part of this whole pandemic process.
Some of them might be frivolous; and some of them are probably legitimate — but with many courts closed around the United States and other larger issues with which we have to deal, is now really the right time to be concerned about lawsuits? I thought that we were all in this together.