Coronavirus: Missouri, Mississippi prepare to sue China over COVID-19 losses

Missouri, Mississippi prepare to sue China over coronavirus losses

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Wednesday that she is prepared to file a lawsuit against China to hold the Asian nation accountable for negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis, including death, health injuries and serious economic losses, according to a release.

“Too many Mississippians have suffered as a result of China’s cover-up,” Fitch said. “They must not be allowed to act with impunity. Mississippians deserve justice and I will seek that in court.”

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Fitch’s case will seek damages under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which is similar to a case filed earlier this week by the State of Missouri. Missouri was the first state to open a lawsuit against the communist nation. The suits would not only seek financial damages, but also hold the Chinese government officially responsible for the pandemic.

“During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment – thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable," the Missouri lawsuit says. " It goes on to say "an appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance and inaction by Chinese authorities unleashed this pandemic.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the Missouri lawsuit “absurd."

“This so-called lawsuit ... has no factual and legal basis at all,” Geng said Wednesday during a news briefing. He insisted China has been open and transparent and called for the U.S. government to dismiss the legal action.

Fitch has also written to the Mississippi Congressional delegation to ask for their support for what’s being called the Holding Chinese Communist Party Accountable for Infecting Americans Act of 2020, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas).

"This bill would give Americans the opportunity to sue China in federal court to recover damages related to death, injury, and economic loss suffered as a result of the Coronavirus.

"China did the world a great injustice by engaging in a complex cover-up of the dangers of this deadly virus. By silencing journalists, doctors, whistleblowers, and others, China exposed millions to the Coronavirus and kept the world from preparing, leading to higher death tolls and more dangerous public health impacts. They must be held to account for the damage they have done.

“Too many have gotten seriously ill or died. Too many have lost their jobs and suffered the significant and lasting economic consequences that follow. Our State is experiencing tangible fiscal loss now and that will likely continue into the future. Mississippi families and businesses deserve to be made whole for China’s malicious and dangerous actions. I hope you will cosponsor [Representative Crenshaw’s and] Senator Cotton’s bill to help them take this step toward recovery.”

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 20: Protesters hold signs encouraging people to demand that businesses be allowed to open up, and people be allowed to work at the Country Club Plaza on April 20, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The protest was part of a growing national movement against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 20: Protesters hold signs encouraging people to demand that businesses be allowed to open up, and people be allowed to work at the Country Club Plaza on April 20, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The protest was part of a growing national movement against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (JS/Getty Images)