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Are You Ready To Sue Red China For Your Wuhan Virus Losses?

Cotton Crenshaw Sue China
Republicans Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative Dan Crenshaw (TX-2) have introduced legislation that would allow American citizens to sue the Chinese Communist government for “death and damages” related to the worldwide Wuhan virus outbreak.

“Americans are currently barred from filing such claims under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which forbids lawsuits against foreign sovereign nations, save in rare instances. Our legislation would carve out a limited exception for physical and economic injuries resulting from COVID-19,” explained the two conservative lawmakers.

“It’s clear the Chinese Communist Party is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic that’s killing thousands of our fellow citizens every day. Late last week we introduced legislation that would hold the party accountable for the physical and economic injury it has inflicted on millions of Americans,” Cotton and Crenshaw wrote in a joint statement on the legislation.

“Some may argue that the link between China’s misdeeds and the injuries suffered by millions of Americans are too tenuous to be sustained in court. But the stream of revelations about China’s deliberate misinformation and cover-up regarding the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China make its role in this pandemic clear,” the legislators observed.

“Our bill gives China the opportunity to resolve its claims with the U.S. government out of court. However, if no settlement is reached China will face the possibility of millions of private claims from Americans who’ve been harmed by the coronavirus,” Senator Cotton said in a statement reported by Fox News.

“China’s despicable actions were designed to purposely mislead our government and weaken our response, and Americans suffered significant losses as a result. A thorough investigation into China’s cover-up will undoubtedly strengthen this connection and provide more evidence that can be used in court against the Chinese Communist Party,” noted Rep. Crenshaw.

“Others may argue that our bill would inundate federal courts with claims. This is a reasonable concern, insofar as millions of Americans have been harmed by the Chinese Communist Party’s actions. This is why our legislation channels all associated claims to just four federal district courts and one federal appellate court that have proven they are capable of managing large caseloads,” said the two legislators according to the FOX News report.

The bill Cotton and Crenshaw have introduced makes a lot of sense, especially in light of the fact that two states have already filed Wuhan virus-related lawsuits.

CBS News reports the state of Missouri became the first to sue the Chinese government over the coronavirus pandemic, followed by Mississippi, alleging the communist country didn't do enough to stop the deadly outbreak. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt alleges China suppressed information, arrested whistleblowers and denied the contagious nature of coronavirus that led to deaths and job losses in Missouri.

The Missouri suit was filed in the Eastern District of Missouri. The 47-page lawsuit alleges China destroyed medical research and hoarded personal protective equipment, and claims China allowed people to leave Wuhan despite knowing about the virus.

Missouri is trying to avoid the obstacle to its case posed by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by suing the Communist Party of China, rather than the People's Republic of China.

Keith Johnson, global geoeconomics correspondent for Foreign Policy magazine, is skeptical the Missouri and Mississippi lawsuits will go anywhere without legislation such as Cotton and Crenshaw have introduced.

In a piece posted April 24, 2020 Johnson wrote, the lawsuit seems to aim less at securing victory in court, which is unlikely given current law and jurisprudence, than at prodding Congress to pass legislation, as it did in 2016 with respect to Saudi Arabia and terrorism, to make it easier for U.S. citizens to sue foreign states for damage caused by malicious actions.

Mr. Johnson also reported:

The lawsuit tried out some creative solutions to try and get around that fundamental problem, though without figuring out how to legally sue China itself. One argument is that the “commercial” activity in Chinese virus labs is an exception to U.S. sovereign-immunity law. Another is that the economic damages caused by the outbreak allow tort claims, even under FSIA.

But legal experts say the case, while better crafted than some class-action lawsuits that have pursued similar goals, is still on shaky ground. Arguing that government-run medical laboratories inside China let loose the virus, and that the Chinese government covered up initial reports of the disease, as the suit alleges, is hard to square with the commercial activity exception to existing U.S. law. That exception allows for lawsuits for commercial activity by a foreign state within the United States that causes some notable damage.

“The argument for the commercial activity exception is specious. The statute requires that the commercial activity be carried out in the United States,” said Joel Trachtman, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “And I am not sure how the Chinese government’s alleged governmental failure constitutes a commercial activity.”

And trying to pin the responsibility on China for the economic harms of the pandemic—the lawsuit makes a reference to Missouri’s skyrocketing unemployment—to invoke the tort exception to FSIA is equally tricky. Most courts have found that both the economic damage and the act that caused that damage must be carried out in the United States.

Mr. Johnson and Professor Trachtman may be right about the current legal impediments to suing the Communist Chinese government, or Communist Party of China, for Wuhan virus-related damages, which makes the legislation proposed by Senator Cotton and Representative Crenshaw all that much more important. If Congress could bestir itself to pass legislation to limit the sovereign immunity of Saudi Arabia, an occasional ally of the United States, it seems moving a bill to allow lawsuits against our greatest global adversary should be a no-brainer.

The toll-free Capitol Switchboard number (1-866-220-0044), we urge CHQ readers and friends to call Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to demand that they schedule hearings and pass the Cotton – Crenshaw bill to immediately end Red China’s sovereign immunity for Wuhan virus claims.

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China and the virus

I agree we need to hols China responsible for lying to the world and allowing people to leave Wuhan and China to other countries to infect there populations! China shouldn't even be allowed to deal with viruses with out the proper safety measures to prevent accidental release by a worker leaving laboratories or equipment failures. Most of all not allowing other county physicians or scientists to come in and figure out what went wrong. China refused to be open so yes I believe they were neglectful and should be put under scrutiny and sued for neglect or punished for lying to other countries allowing further contamination of the Wuhan virus on purpose! That is my opinion. We need to take back our supply chains that our elite class sold america out with to get rich on allowing our economy to be held hostage.

A Great Start

Whether these class actions prove winnable is irrelevant. They are paving the way for a nation by nation accounting of the losses suffered and holding accountable the Chinese government as the cause.

Even if the resolution is nothing more than setting aside debt owned by China and paying the savings on interest that would have been paid to China - to the settlement class's better than nothing.

More importantly, it sends a message that supression of reporting on dangerous diseases or other pertinent information that causes death and destruction - has a real cost. This should have been no worse than a localized outbreak of Ebola; still horrible...but contained and dealt with as a regional (not global) issue.

We could have been there to help them recover. Instead we're looking to recover from them for their actions.