Court Rejects Lawsuit Against China over the COVID Pandemic
From Missouri ex rel. Schmitt v. People’s Republic of China, decided Friday by Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. (E.D. Mo.) (fun fact: he’s the late Rush Limbaugh’s cousin):
Amidst the wreckage of the COVID-19 pandemic, plaintiffs across the United States have filed civil suits seeking damages against the People’s Republic of China and related entities for their role in the pandemic. This is one such suit. Plaintiff, the State of Missouri ex rel. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (“Plaintiff”), sues nine Chinese defendants for injuries suffered within the State of Missouri because of the pandemic…. [T]he Court determines that it has no power under the [Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act] to decide the merits of the case and dismisses the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction….
The complaint names as defendants (1) the People’s Republic of China (PRC), (2) the Communist Party of China (CCP), (3) PRC’s National Health Commission, (4) PRC’s Ministry of Emergency Management, (5) PRC’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, (6) People’s Government of Hubei Province, (7) the People’s Government of Wuhan City, (8) the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and (9) the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
The following is a broad-brush summary of the complaint’s allegations, with details added later in the opinion as needed to address the legal issues.
Defendants engaged in research on coronaviruses at the WIV, a laboratory with known safety concerns. On November 17 or even earlier, people began to contract COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus. One theory is that the virus originated from animals at a Wuhan seafood market while another theory (later) posited that the virus escaped from WIV’s laboratory. On December 31, 2019, despite ample evidence to the contrary, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced that investigation had found no obvious human-to-human transmission and no infection of medical staff. Defendants delayed reporting the virus to the World Health Organization (WHO) and misled it about the nature and extent of the problem, inducing the WHO to deny or downplay the risk of human-to-human transmission in the critical weeks while the v
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