Coronavirus: Thousands in US file class-action lawsuit against China
Amid a global outcry over China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 10,000 Americans have reportedly signed a class-action lawsuit against the country. The $6 trillion lawsuit has been filed by the Berman Law Group in Florida against the Chinese Communist Party alleging that they failed to issue a timely notification to the rest of the world about the outbreak. Here are more details.
According to the Australian news portal 9News, till Sunday, 10,000 people in the US had signed the Berman Law Group's class-action. Jeremy Alters, the chief strategist behind the lawsuit, told the news portal, "They (China) failed to let us know in a timely fashion about the virus and have unleashed hell on our communities, on our countries, the United States, Australia and everywhere else."
One of the people who signed the Berman Law Group's lawsuit is New Yorker Lorraine Caggiano. Reportedly, 10 of Caggiano's family members, including herself, contracted the coronavirus. Her father also died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Several healthcare workers have also joined the lawsuit, which is reportedly among at least four class-action lawsuits alleging China's failure in handling the crisis.
One other class-action lawsuit has been filed by a group of California-based small businesses seeking $8 trillion in damages from China for allegedly withholding information about the virus, Fox Business reported. According to Newsweek, one Larry Klayman is leading another class-action against China for allegedly releasing a "biological weapon" into the public. Klayman is a conservative lawyer and founder of the group Freedom Watch.
Writing in Bloomberg, Yale University law professor Stephen L Carter argued that regardless of China's role, it could not be sued. Conservative British think-tank Henry Jackson Society argued that G7 nations could sue China for $6.3 trillion. Andrew Foxall—director of research at the think-tank—told Voice of America, "Using a combination of the legal avenues may prove to be the most effective way forward."
The COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have started from the Huanan seafood market in China's Wuhan city late last year. However, China did not confirm the outbreak or the fact that the coronavirus could be transmitted between humans until late-January. There have also been reports that China attempted to cover up the outbreak by intimidating doctors, scientists, journalists, and lawyers.
On January 2, Chinese authorities appeared on a national television broadcast to shame eight doctors for spreading rumors. The Associated Press reported last week that the head of China's National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, acknowledged a "severe and complex" situation similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak in a confidential teleconference on January 14. President Xi Jinping did not warn the public until January 20.
Recently, reports have emerged claiming that the coronavirus may have accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. US President Donald Trump also cited this report in a recent press conference. Trump has threatened action against China if it was "knowingly responsible" for the outbreak. A French virologist, who won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, has also claimed that the virus is man-made.