A number of small Nevada businesses have filed a class action claiming the People's Republic of China engaged in a "cover-up" that allowed the novel coronavirus to spread worldwide, causing vast economic harm.
Five Nevada small businesses have filed a proposed class action lawsuit in which they allege the People’s Republic of China engaged in a “cover-up” following the country’s early coronavirus diagnoses that thereby caused or contributed to the spread of the disease around the world.
The plaintiffs—who include a Nevada florist, CPR training company, real estate contractor, realtor and restaurant—allege they and other small businesses across the United States have sustained hundreds of billions in damages as a result of COVID-19-related shutdowns, injuries that the lawsuit says “will only increase in the future because many of these small businesses have been ordered closed or are working at reduced capacity.”
The timeline laid out in the lawsuit starts around November 17, 2019, when it’s believed the novel coronavirus began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. According to the lawsuit, the defendants, among whom are China’s National Health Commission, Ministry of Emergency Management and the People’s Government of Hubei Province, “knew or should have known” that COVID-19 was a new viral health threat in that many Chinese citizens who contracted the virus were getting very sick. It was also around this time, the lawsuit says, that the People’s Republic of China received “credible scientific evidence” confirming the novel coronavirus was “very contagious, deadly and capable of causing a pandemic.”
The plaintiffs argue that upon receiving “this disturbing scientific evidence and data,” the defendants had a responsibility to China’s own citizens, the World Health Organization and the greater international community to immediately disclose what they knew. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, the defendants “engaged in a campaign of misinformation and lies."
“Upon information and belief,” the complaint claims, “they engaged in a campaign of intimidating and arresting any Chinese doctors, scientists, attorneys and/or reporters who tried to alert the public about this dangerous ‘new’ coronavirus.”
According to the plaintiffs, they and other small businesses—classified as those with fewer than 500 employees—will continue to sustain economic damages “because of the Defendants’ conduct and misconduct,” with estimated losses amounting to trillions of dollars.
Though individuals are generally prohibited from suing a sovereign nation such as China, the case argues that there is a jurisdictional exception under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in that the defendants’ alleged conduct has gone against “the precepts of humanity, transparency, and/or … is prohibited” by China’s internal laws. Cited in the complaint is China’s reported admission that the Wuhan police “acted improperly when they intimidated and forced Dr. Li Wenliang, who was a whistleblower that exposed the existence and dangers” of the new coronavirus, to sign a false statement denying that COVID-19 had been discovered and was killing people in the country. This false statement was used to “mislead the international community, including the US” with regard to the seriousness of the coronavirus, the lawsuit alleges.
“When Defendants took these actions, the Defendants told the public that ‘everything was under control,’” the lawsuit says. “In truth, the medical crisis was out of control.”