Washington, D.C. –Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced legislation that would allow Americans to sue China in federal court to recover damages for death, injury, and economic harm caused by the coronavirus. Specifically, the bill would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to create a narrow exception for damages caused by China’s dangerous handling of the coronvirus outbreak.
“We need to hold the Chinese government accountable for their malicious lies and coverup that allowed the coronavirus to spread across the world. The communist regime expelled journalists, silenced whistleblowers, and withheld vital information that delayed the global response to the pandemic. Simply put: their actions cost American lives and livelihoods. This bill will help ensure China’s actions are not without consequences,” said Crenshaw.
“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe. Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused,” said Cotton.
This legislation is modeled after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which 97 members of the Senate voted in favor of in 2016.
The bill makes clear that covering up the virus and causing it to spread faster or further than it otherwise would have can be considered a tortious act.
The bill gives the United States a powerful tool to get China to pay for the damage it has caused: If the United States and China come to an agreement to settle the claims, then the private suits could be dismissed. In other words, China can take responsibility and agree to pay for the damage it has caused, or it can face potentially millions of claims in federal court.