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Missouri spends $11K on translation, processing fees to sue China

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Attorney General’s Office spent about $11,000 on a New Jersey-based company for translation and international process servicing fees to sue China over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Attorney General’s Office hired DGR Legal after soliciting competitive bids. It officially served the Chinese Communist Party, the Wuhan Institute for Virology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences with lawsuits via email Tuesday to “to hold [them] accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

According to a news release, DGR Legal identified service addresses, provided translations of service documents into Chinese, and prepared the service packets. A spokesperson confirmed the firm was retained in August for translation and “fees related to international process services” and was paid about $11,000.  

Costs for these types of international processing services can often be calculated based on word count and the type of translation needed, experts told The Missouri Times. A representative for DGR Legal did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, announced he was suing the Chinese government over its handling of the pandemic in April 2020. And about one year later, a federal court gave Schmitt’s office the ability to serve the three non-governmental defendants by email after China objected to being served through the Hague Convention. 

Schmitt’s office must go through the proper “diplomatic channels” through the State Department to serve the People’s Republic of China and five other subsidiaries, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Schmitt has asked the State Department to aid in serving China as well as waive the $2,275 per defendant consular fees as it pertains to the People’s Republic of China, the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, the Ministry of Emergency Management of the People’s Republic of China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, the People’s Government of Hubei Province, and the People’s Government of Wuhan City. 

“Unlike private disputes among private litigants, our lawsuit is filed on behalf of the people of Missouri as a whole, and it serves the public interest,” Schmitt said in the request. “Moreover, all Americans have an overpowering interest in achieving truth and accountability regarding the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This lawsuit serves the interest of all Americans, not just Missourians.”  

The suit is filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Southeastern Division. 

According to a timeline from the Attorney General’s Office, it solicited bids from firms from May to August 2020 before DGR attempted to submit service packets to the Chinese foreign ministry. 

Missouri was the first state to attempt to sue China regarding COVID-19. Mississippi has also sued China. 

“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,” Schmitt has said.