Judge throws out Missouri AG’s COVID-19 suit against China

July 9, 2022 GMT

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit by Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt that blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh said in his 38-page ruling that in this case federal rules prohibit a sovereign foreign entity from being sued in American courts.

“All in all, the court has no choice but to dismiss this novel complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” Limbaugh stated in the final line of the dismissal order. The judge noted earlier in the opinion that the civil suit against China is one of many filed “amidst the wreckage of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Schmitt’s office said it would appeal the ruling.

The complaint filed in April 2020 alleges that Chinese officials are “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians.” Schmitt said the Chinese government lied about the dangers of the virus and didn’t do enough to slow its spread.

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China criticized the lawsuit as “very absurd” and said it has no factual and legal basis. Schmitt called the lawsuit historic, but legal experts mostly panned it as a stunt aimed at shifting blame to China for the COVID-19 pandemic.