The suit is aimed specifically at the People’s Republic of China and various agencies, including the Chinese Communist Party. The suit named allegations of suppressing important information, arresting whistleblowers, and the denial of the disease being contagious, and all the fallout of these actions.
“COVID-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering,” Schmitt said in a statement. “In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real — thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table. 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. They must be held accountable for their actions.”
Missouri is the first state to make this move. The suit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The lawsuit alleged that during the initial outbreak, the Chinese government “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 (“PPE”)—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable.”
The suit further alleged the government had knowledge of the disease and its person-to-person transmission before reporting anything to the CDC and omitted that information when it was reported. It also said officials in China did little to mitigate the virus’s spread, continuing on with traditional celebrations involving large gatherings despite the infection. Also alleged is a coverup involving detainment of whistleblowers, including doctors who issued warnings about the new disease.
The suit cited the unemployment rate, economic toll, and impact on the state budget that Missouri is facing due to this alleged misconduct. The suit seeks civil penalties, restitution, punitive damages, and other civil remedies. Charges include one count of abnormally dangerous activities, one count of public nuisance, and two counts of breach of duty.
Officials said the claim skirts restrictions from the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) which disallows Americans from suing foreign governments. There have been at least seven other suits filed against China by private groups recently.
Thus far, nearly 6,000 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19, and 189 people have died.