As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to ravage the globe, more and more people are starting to demand that China take responsibility for it. Multiple lawsuits have been filed by individuals, businesses and even states against China, both in America and overseas.
“What I’m hoping to come out of it is some accountability and some clarity and some truth to see what really, really happened,” said Lorraine Caggiano, one of the plaintiffs of a class-action lawsuit seeking damages against the Chinese Community Party (CCP).
“And to see how moving forward we can prevent such a thing. I mean, the world has been turned on its ear — it’s insane.”
The Berman Law Group headed suit that Caggiano joined is just one of six class-action lawsuits that have been filed by businesses and individuals in U.S. federal courts against the regime. This includes other suits in Florida, Texas, Nevada and California.
In addition to these suits, the attorney generals of Missouri and Mississippi have also filed separate lawsuits against Beijing on behalf of their states. The filings have led other states to consider doing the same.
“I saw that Missouri lawsuit,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “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.” (Related: China’s response to COVID-19 is the latest in string of COVER-UPS and suppression.)
Even while the governor mulls the suit, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has already sent what he called a “demand letter” to the Chinese ambassador. In addition, he also said that they may stop payments to Chinese vendors doing business with the state.
“These are direct effects and losses to the state’s revenues due to a virus that did not originate inside the state of Florida, nor in the United States,” Patronis said.
It’s not only Americans who are filing lawsuits against the CCP. Around the globe, a number of people and organizations have also begun to take legal action against the regime.
In Italy, the popular De La Posta Hotel in the Italian Alps is suing China’s Ministry of Health for damages, blaming the country for not sharing information about the coronavirus early enough.
Meanwhile, Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Talaat has issued an injunction to Chinese president Xi Jinping calling on China to pay $10 trillion for damages caused by the coronavirus in the country.
In Nigeria, a group of lawyers is suing China for $200 million in damages. Epiphany Azinge, whose firm, Azinge and Azinge, is championing the action, says that it’s for the “loss of lives, economic strangulation, trauma, hardship, social disorientation, mental torture and disruption of the normal, daily existence of people in Nigeria.”
Despite the number of suits against China, the question of whether or not these suits can succeed remains.
According to the LA Times’s legal experts David G. Savage and Alice Su, these efforts are almost certain to fail thanks to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. This law warns that a foreign state, including a “political subdivision” of said state, “shall be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States and of the states,” with just a few exceptions.
One major exception in the law is for terrorism. The law says that foreign states are not protected from claims arising from terrorism, including those linked to an “act of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage-taking or the provision of material support or resources” to those responsible for such acts.
The other exception is for commercial activity that is “carried on in the United States by a foreign state” or causes “a direct effect” in America. In this case, if China made a contract with a state to supply medical equipment, it could be sued if it was not able to deliver as promised.