The state of Missouri sues China for mishandling Coronavirus outbreak as it now grapples the whole world and its economy.
It’s the first such lawsuit brought by a state and it relies on an unusual interpretation of federal law.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, has blamed China for the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
So he’s suing China, three government ministries, two local governments, two laboratories and the Chinese Communist Party in U.S. District Court.
They all “engaged in misrepresentations, concealment, and retaliation to conceal the gravity and seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak from the rest of the world,” according to Schmitt.
“There’s been untold suffering across the globe, including here in Missouri, and we want to hold them accountable for that,” Schmitt says.
However, China is protected by sovereign immunity.
“A sovereign is not supposed to sue a sovereign, and that’s what’s going on here,” says Lea Brilmayer, professor of international law.
The case is quite unusual and has no jurisdiction in the court world over a matter between a U.S. state and a sovereign nation, says Brilmayer.
“This is a last-ditch effort to do something to respond to the political situation,” she says.
While Missouri might have a hard time moving forward with a lawsuit against China.
Schmitt further says there’s an exception for commercial activity and alleges that labs and hospitals are commercial ventures.
He’s also counting the Chinese Communist Party as a non-state actor, which he says fortifies his legal argument.