In what is sure to be the first of many, Missouri has filed a lawsuit against China for ‘enormous’ consequences of coronavirus ‘deceit.’
They also included in the lawsuit “the enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil” resulting from the disease.
The suit in the Eastern District of Missouri follows at least seven federal class-action suits that have been filed by private groups, with one filed in Florida saying that 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 on the heels of 22 Republican lawmakers on Monday requesting that the Trump administration bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICIJ) for the country’s actions during the pandemic.
Missouri has confirmed 5,963 cases of the virus and 215 deaths as of Tuesday morning — the economic shutdown the state-imposed to reduce the spread of the disease has cost Missouri about $44 billion, according to one estimate.
“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,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement.
The text of the lawsuit lays the blame for the pandemic’s consequences squarely at China’s feet.
“The repeated unlawful and unreasonable acts and omissions of” China, the Missouri suit claims, “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.”
Missouri officials have said that in addition to getting as large of a financial judgment as possible, they are looking to send a message that they hold the Chinese Government official accountable for its actions that made this pandemic much worse then it should have been.
“An appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction by Chinese authorities unleashed this pandemic,” the suit reads. “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.”
The suit makes numerous claims of wrongdoing by China and the other defendants related to the Chinese government it seeks to hold responsible, including an “emerging theory on the origin of the virus … that it was released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying the virus.”
This could not only open up multiple state and federal lawsuits against China. It could potentially open up numerous nations doing the same.
If these do go forward, the question arises, how anyone would have a prayer of recouping the damages?
This may be both very easy and difficult. If we start to see injunctions put on Chinese holdings, claims against sovereign debts they are holding, we could see a rapid move by the Chinese government to liquidate their holdings to minimize losses.