Class action seeks to bill China for fallout from coronavirus: “We want the court to make them pay”

Class action seeks to bill China for fallout from coronavirus: "We want the court to make them pay"

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A class action filed with Florida this month seeks to “do China pay for what they did “in his management of the coronavirus crisis, saying that the country acted “negligently in managing the COVID-19 epidemic”.

Boca Raton, Florida-based personal injury law firm files lawsuit against China and various Chinese government agencies on behalf of “individuals and business owners in the United States and Florida , for damages suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. “

The trial claims that China “knew that COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, but acted slowly, proverbially put its head in the sand and / or concealed it for its own economic benefit”.

“This is a commitment against a global superpower that has the capacity to pay for what they did,” Jeremy Alters, chief spokesperson for the Berman Law Group, the class action lawsuit, told Fox News. who supports the trial.

“They have the money to pay for what they did, and we all have to make China pay for what they did,” he said.

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The original complaint only had a handful of named complainants, but lawyers familiar with the Berman Law Group case said they planned to file an amended complaint at some point with many more complainants, including people who got sick from coronavirus.

The lawsuit does not mention a specific amount sought from China, claiming “compensatory and other damages to the plaintiffs and members of the group, for their economic and non-economic damage … to the fullest extent permitted by law” . Alters, however, clarified that although Berman’s lawyers would potentially seek “tens of billions” from the Communist nation, the lawsuit largely concerned the symbolism of forcing China to defend its actions in American courts.

“We want the court to make them pay for what they did,” said Alters. “They have unleashed … a massive pandemic on the world. It seems they knew it long before they gave the rest of the world information about it. We want our courts to say,” China, you’re going to be detained ” responsible here in our courts because you have injured hundreds of millions of Americans. “

The suit also has the potential, according to its proponents, to highlight documents and other information on the coronavirus that China could still refuse to other governments and health experts around the world.

This class action is not the first against China for the coronavirus, but it is the first serious complaint. The far-right organization based in D.C. Freedom watch filed a $ 20 trillion lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, accusing the Chinese of having created coronavirus as a biological weapon – an allegation that has been demystified.

Florida-based lawsuit, however, seeks damages based on Chinese government’s neglect to contain the coronavirus after its first transmission from animals to humans, an allegation with a large amount of supporting evidence .

Residents wearing face masks buy seafood at a wet market on January 28 in Macau, China.
(Getty Images)

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This is made difficult, however, by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) which prevents Americans from prosecuting other countries, except in specific circumstances. The complainants assert that they fall within the exceptions for commercial activity and “personal injury or death” which arise from “the tort or omission of that foreign state or of any official or employee of that foreign state while acting in the course of his duties or employment. “

Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter, however, argued in a Bloomberg Column Tuesday that Florida lawsuit claims do not fall under FSIA exceptions.

“The Florida class action claims that the exception for commercial activities applies, but it is not easy to see how,” wrote Carter.

Carter also notes that the second exemption that the Florida plaintiffs claim “expressly prohibits any claim” based on exercise or performance or on the failure to exercise or exercise discretion, whether or not the discretion is abused “It is difficult to find a way around this restriction.”

But Alters says China’s negligence in responding to the coronavirus should fall under the exceptions to the FSIA because of its seriousness.

“There is a long history of precedents for bringing foreign nations to our courts for their wrongdoings which affect the Americans,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t know in history if there has been another bad act like this that has affected so many Americans at once, where the whole economy has stalled and 14 states are now under house arrest. “

Florida’s lawsuit against China is also important, according to his supporters, because of the collaboration between two very different companies working on the case.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian during his first regular press briefing to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on February 24, 2020. He was the spearhead in China's disinformation campaign against coronaviruses. (Photo by Roman BalandinTASS via Getty Images)

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian during his first regular press briefing to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on February 24, 2020. He was the spearhead in China’s disinformation campaign against coronaviruses. (Photo by Roman BalandinTASS via Getty Images)

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Berman Law Group has presidential candidate Joe Biden’s brother Francis as senior counsel. Alters, a spokesperson for Berman, is a veteran of Obama’s presidential campaigns and John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

The lobby and public relations firm working on the case, Lucas Compton, is closer to the right side of the aisle. George Sorial is a partner at Lucas Compton and worked in the Trump Organization for several years before leaving the company to become a campaign substitute for the current president.

“It transcends politics,” said Sorial of the efforts to prosecute China. “Even if you look at the collaboration of our two firms, two firms on both sides of the aisle very different. … They are who they are, we are who we are, but that transcends politics. … “It is not a political bipartisan effort on behalf of American citizens. It is almost a patriotic thing to hold this country accountable.”

Beyond the difficulties of the FSIA, another likely weakness of the case is the fact that it deals with the idea that the coronavirus potentially comes from a laboratory – which has been demystified – as a legitimate “alternative theory”. This could potentially compromise the majority of his case, suggesting that the virus was transmitted from animal to human at a wildlife market in Wuhan city before China responded to the threat. health through obfuscation and censorship.

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Responding to a question about including the human-made virus theory in their lawsuit, Alters said the presence of a high-security bio-agent laboratory in Wuhan “cannot be ignored.”

“[The Wuhan Institute of Virology] handles the most dangerous viruses, “he said.” He lives at the epicenter of the epidemic in Wuhan. In this laboratory, they cultivate exotic animal viruses. The wet markets were to be closed years ago and the Chinese government has turned a blind eye to ongoing operations. It is not a coincidence. They also knew the active and routine trade of these exotic animals which harbor these viruses. The Chinese government has authorized the sale, exchange and consumption of these animals by putting their heads in the sand knowing the dangers that this presents locally and internationally. “

The first conference on the case is scheduled for May 1 before judge Ursula Ungaro.

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