The COVID-19 pandemic has led to devastating losses around the world, from thousands of deaths to economic recession and lay-offs. Throughout the crisis, many officials wondered if a faster response from China would have decreased the impact of the novel coronavirus.

In response to this perceived lack of responsibility, Missouri became the first state in the United States to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government over its handling of COVID-19. However, due to jurisdiction issues, it is not likely that this claim will result in settlement.

Why Did Missouri File a Lawsuit Against China?

The COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, and the lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt alleges that the Chinese government’s response to the virus allowed for it to spread and cause subsequent economic destruction. Represented by Schmitt, the state filed the claim against the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, and a number of ministries, city and provincial governments, and scientific bodies, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The lawsuit alleges that China acted in negligence by committing the following acts in the wake of the novel coronavirus, causing the virus to spread.

  • Suppressing information about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, including the destruction of medical research
  • Denying that COVID-19 could spread from human-to-human transmission
  • Silencing and arresting whistleblowers who attempted to warn the world about COVID-19
  • Hoarding personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves
  • Permitting millions of people to come in contact with the COVID-19 virus
  • Allowing for the deaths, suffering, and economic damage experienced by countries around the world

The claim aims to collect financial compensation for the residents of Missouri who have experienced economic devastation, suffering, and the loss of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This lawsuit aims to collect monetary compensation for Missouri residents, and has the potential to award tens of billions of dollars in damages if successful.

The Chinese Government’s Response to Missouri’s Lawsuit

According to an article in Reuters, the Chinese government has dismissed the accusation that they were to blame for the spread and economic destruction associated with COVID-19. A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry described the lawsuit as absurd, and stated that the claim lacked factual and legal bases.

Legal experts do not expect the Missouri lawsuit against China to be successful. The doctrine of sovereign immunity protects foreign governments from lawsuits filed against them in American civil courts. The United States does not have civil jurisdiction over China in its own courts, and for this lawsuit to result in a settlement, Missouri will need to file their claim with an international body.

Do You Have a COVID-19 Lawsuit?

While it is unclear whether Missouri’s lawsuit against the Chinese government will result in a settlement, the claim may represent a larger trend of civil action in response to COVID-19. From worker’s compensation to cruise ship liability and nursing home negligence, we may see a rise in coronavirus-related lawsuits as the pandemic progresses and comes to an end.

Have You Been Injured in Kansas City, Missouri? You Should Speak With an Experienced Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyer.

If you've been injured in the Kansas City area you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 816.832.4688 to schedule your free consultation. We are proud to serve Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding area and look forward to speaking with you.

Spencer Eisenmenger
Helping Kansas City area medical malpractice, product liability, birth injury and personal injury clients.
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