Australian coronavirus victims won’t get a cent from China for covering up the severity of the deadly disease because the nation is immune from litigation.
Multiple class action lawsuits have been launched in the U.S. for trillions of dollars involving thousands of victims in more than 40 countries.
However, they are doomed to fail because governments are immune from civil litigation under international treaties.
Australian National University law professor Donald Rothwell said as a result, the prospect of success in a lawsuit against China was close to nonexistent.
President Xi Jinping must answer tough questions over China’s actions on Covid-19, as lawyers in the US prepare to sue the nation for ‘trillions’ of dollars over the coronavirus outbreak
‘The Chinese Communist Party enjoys very broad immunity, as does any state, so getting around that would be exceptionally difficult,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
This has not stopped American lawyers launching massive class actions along with a separate lawsuit by the U.S. state of Missouri.
The class action, which involves thousands of claimants from 40 countries including Britain and the US, was filed in Florida last month.
A caller to 2GB radio on Wednesday night said he had signed up to the class action and the Australian Government should also go after China.
‘How we look to paying for all of this after it’s over, the first thing we should look to is going after Communist China and its companies here, because they clearly lied to the world,’ he said.
‘Think about it, $320 billion of our money and we don’t know what the death toll is going to be or the health implications for those who recover.
‘When the government says they want to increase my taxes, I’ll say ‘what are you going to recover from Communist China and its assets here?”
Australia has 6,660 coronavirus cases and 76 deaths so far, more than a million people have lost their jobs, and the economic hit will be many billions of dollars
Australia has 6,660 coronavirus cases and 76 deaths so far, more than a million people have lost their jobs, and the economic hit will be many billions of dollars.
A report by British think-tank the Henry Jackson Society claimed China could be used for $6.42 trillion by the G7 nations alone – $37 billion for Australia.
The U.S. legal claim was launched by Berman Law Group, a Miamibased firm that employs the brother of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as an adviser.
Chief strategist Jeremy Alters said: ‘China’s leaders must be held accountable for their actions. Our goal is to expose the truth.’
Three years ago, the firm won a US$1.2 billion case against China over the manufacture of defective building materials.
A second case launched this month on behalf of healthcare workers accuses China of hoarding life-saving medical supplies.
Another action is from an Israeli human rights lawyers that specialises in suing states for terrorism.
Lawyers argue that although nations have legal immunity, there are exceptions under U.S. law for personal or property damages and for actions abroad that impact on businesses in their own borders.
However, Yale University law professor and former U.S. Supreme Court clerk Stephen L Carter shot down this suggestion, along with any other loopholes, as the sovereign immunity provision is bulletproof.
‘The government of China is protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, and the regime’s undoubted misconduct does not constitute sufficient grounds for a waiver,’ he wrote in a Bloomberg column.
A woman wearing a protective mask is seen past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping on a street as the country is hit with fresh accusations
Prospects are far better for the more than 600 victims of the Ruby Princess debacle as the cruise operator could be accused of breaching its duty of care.
Professor Rothwell said the best bet was to sue Princess Cruises or its parent company Carnival in U.S. courts.
‘American passengers have not only become infected but some have died,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
BRITS FEEL CHINA SHOULD PAY
Nearly three-quarters of Britons think the UK should sue the Chinese Communist Party for compensation over its handling of Covid-19, a poll reveals.
The survey also finds that only a quarter support the Government’s plans to allow controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei a role in building Britain’s 5G network.
In the Survation poll of 1,001 people last week, 71 per cent said Britain should pursue China through the international courts.
Calls for an international inquiry into China’s handling of the outbreak were backed by 83 per cent, while 74 per cent blamed China for the pandemic.
On a future role for Huawei, 40 per cent of those surveyed opposed the move, with just 23 per cent in favour.
‘So an international class action through the U.S. courts would be the most obvious way to go because they are sympathetic to these types of claims and the prospects of success are very strong.’
Professor Rothwell said Australians should be able to join them, provided they can prove a relevant connection and were able to travel to the U.S.
However, he said it would be difficult to prove claimants caught coronavirus from being on the ship as it stopped in New Zealand, and many passengers also travelled home interstate after disembarking in Sydney Harbour.
‘A better question is what duty of care did Princess Cruises have towards passengers?’ he said.
Chung Chen, 64, died on April 4 in Los Angeles after getting coronavirus during the cruise and his family has already filed a $1.6 million lawsuit in U.S. courts.
‘If [the] plaintiffs had knowledge of the actual risk of exposure prior to boarding, they would have never boarded the ship, and they would’ve boarded the first flight out of Australia and returned home,’ the lawsuit said.
Sydney couple Michael Dobrin, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, and his wife Rona, 75, both contracted coronavirus on board and said they wanted to sue.
Ms Dobrin said the crew never told passengers the virus might be on the ship even after swabbing 13 potential cases for testing in Sydney.
‘We would have isolated ourselves in the cabin if we’d known. We’re not spring chickens, we’re high risk,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Prospects are far better for the more than 600 victims of the Ruby Princess (pictured) debacle as the cruise operator could be accused of breaching its duty of care
Chung Chen, 64, died on April 4 in Los Angeles from COVID-19 after travelling on the Ruby Princess, which finished it’s voyage in Sydney. Pictured with his wife and daughter
‘People have been let off the ship, with no testing, flying all over the place without knowing they might have it.
‘I’m seething with bloody rage. Princess Cruises has a lot to answer for. We should all start a class action lawsuit.’
China faces accusations that it suppressed data, blocked several outside teams of public health experts and silenced doctors trying to warn about the epidemic when it broke out late last year.
It has also not been established if the source of the virus was a market selling live exotic animals, as first claimed, or if it is linked to research laboratories in Wuhan.
Plaintiffs on the Florida class action include Olivier Babylone, 38, an estate agent from Croydon, South London, whose income has fallen by two-thirds and who was treated in hospital earlier this month for the virus.
Michael Dobrin, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, and his wife Rona, 75, caught coronavirus on the Ruby Princess and claim the cruise ship kept them in the dark about guests who had symptoms on board. They want to sue the cruise company in a class action
He said: ‘I have been financially hurt, but many people have lost their lives so I was lucky, and the NHS was fantastic. We need to know who is responsible.’
Joining him in the class action is Lorraine Caggiano, an administrator from New York who caught the virus along with nine other family members after attending a wedding.
Her father and aunt both died last month. She said: ‘I am not expecting money. It is a symbolic gesture that we are fighting back.
‘I want to know how the world has been turned on its head, with people dying and companies going down the drain. We must make sure it never happens again.’
A second legal case is being prepared by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law centre that has represented victims of terrorism around the world.
The centre’s Aviel Leitner said it would also launch its legal action in the US since ‘most other countries would be scared of China’s economic weight and retribution’.
The lawyers will argue that Beijing’s negligence and reckless behaviour was so bad that, as with terrorism, the state cannot hide behind sovereign immunity.
‘China will fight it tooth and nail. If proved negligent, it would be catastrophe for them,’ Mr Leitner said.
The state of Missouri also filed a lawsuit against the Chinese government over the coronavirus pandemic, claiming China’s officials are to blame for the devastating outbreak that’s sweeping the globe.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri on Tuesday, alleges Chinese officials are ‘responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians.’
‘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,’ Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office said in a written statement. ‘They must be held accountable for their actions.’
In Missouri there are over 6,000 cases and over 200 deaths in the the state and one estimate says that coronavirus lockdowns in the state have cost Missouri $44 billion.