‘Show Me’ the Money: Missouri Files Suit Against China for Virus Reparations

Missouri is the first state in the nation to sue the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for monetary compensation for losses suffered due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States. Among the claims alleged in the civil suit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt include negligence; hoarding of personal protective equipment (PPE); and tens of billions of dollars in economic losses incurred by Missouri residents.

“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers and did little to stop the spread of the disease,” Schmitt said. The lawsuit accuses the Chinese Communist Party of “knowing, willful and in reckless disregard of the rights of the state and its residents.” 

The allegations that China concealed the seriousness of the outbreak drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, where China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed the accusation as “nothing short of absurdity” and lacking any factual or legal basis.

However, autopsies of two California residents found that they had succumbed to the virus while at home on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17. This is indicative that the virus has been spreading throughout the US longer than previously reported. 

The Show Me State’s lawsuit will likely be unsuccessful, according to Tom Ginsburg, a professor of international law at the University of Chicago, because the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects foreign governments from being sued in US courts.

Schmitt’s complaint cites two exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which he argues should allow the case to proceed. These exceptions relate to commercial activity in the U.S. and “for personal injury or death, or damage to or loss of property, occurring in the United States and caused by the tortious act or omission of that foreign state,” according to Schmitt.

Multiple class action suits have also been filed against China related to the pandemic, according to Schmitt’s office. Legal scholars proffer little hope of any of them gaining traction, let alone succeeding.

 

In this 2019 file photo, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

 

 

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