If China is responsible for the coronavirus, will lawsuits be successful? – Daily News

on May15
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Q:  Information suggests the novel coronavirus came from China.  The losses are staggering, and there are now lawsuits going forward against China.  Will those be successful? — D.G., Manhattan Beach

A:  To sue another country typically faces a formidable legal hurdle referred to as  “sovereign immunity.” This means the foreign state is immune from claims.

Under international law (which we follow here), there are certain exceptions to sovereign immunity, such as (a) commercial activities that directly effect persons here, (b) wrongful acts (as opposed to solely harmful consequences), and (c) state-sponsored terrorism.

At this early stage it is hard to say that a court will view the kind of claims brought against China as meeting one of these defined exceptions.

Also, there are other barriers to a successful claim against China, other than immunity. For example, there are those who claim Saudi Arabia played a role in the horrible events of September 11, 2001. It is nearly 19 years later, and while there are cases pending, they remain undecided.

That said, Congress may adopt arguably controversial amendments to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to try to make suit against China viable.  Still, proving the wrongdoing, let alone getting China to  pay if it is found liable, could present real challenges.

Q: Can a class action be certified in a lawsuit for damages against China related to COVID-19? — D.F., Orange

A:  A knee-jerk reaction might be “of course” — so many people are sick from COVID-19, and those making claim believe they can prove it came from China.  It is not that simple, however, to actually certify a class.  In Federal Court there are four basic criteria: (a) so many are affected that joinder of all members is not practical; (b) there are common questions of law and fact among the class members; (iii) the claims of the class representatives must be typical of the overall class, and (iv) the representative parties can adequately and fairly protect the interests of the other class members.

Let’s then post a few questions about whether a class action is feasible: Is a class member someone who lives in the USA and got COVID-19 here?  Or, is it someone who was traveling abroad, caught it overseas but has returned?  It is a young person or an older person?  How did the person get Covid 19?  Was the person hospitalized, or managed to get through it at home?  Did someone tragically die? Was there a very difficult recovery, or in some instances not that bad?

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