Engelbrecht Kruger Attorneys - Logan Alters & Others // People's Republic of China

This is a class action brought in the USA against China

 · 13 min read

A copy of the action is available here. An analyses of the various lawsuits are available at lawfareblog.com.

Our view is that China cannot be sued.

Extract


This is class action brought by the Named Plaintiffs, individuals and business owners in the United States and State of Florida, for damages suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, against Defendants, the People’s Republic of China and its various government entities overseeing the response to the Coronavirus pandemic in China generally and within Hubei Province and the City of Wuhan.

The world has been devastated in recent days by the ongoing march of the new strain of the Coronavirus, more commonly known as COVID-19. The virus began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019, and has quickly spread throughout Asia, Europe and, North America.

The PRC and the other Defendants knew that COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up for their own economic self-interest.

The conduct of Defendants has caused injury and incalculable harm to Named Plaintiffs and Class Members, and such injury and harm will only multiply in coming days and weeks. The Defendants’ conduct has caused and will continue to cause personal injuries and deaths, as well as other damages.

The Case


The China coronavirus lawsuit filed this week by attorneys Matthew Moore and Vincent Duffy alleges that the PRC failed to report and contain the virus promptly, or to disclose the number of cases.
The China Coronavirus Lawsuit: The Law Firm Suing China For the Coronavirus 4 Matthew Moore

“Given what was happening in the past few days in the United States, it seemed to the firm and Russell Berman, the head of the firm, we weren’t going to get any better,” Moore, who works in Los Angeles, told Law.com. “It seems like chaos is about to unfold on the United States. We wanted to address it, and get it out there.”

The ‘Chinese Virus’

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic this week, and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday, while other countries have announced major measures to lockdown their cities in an attempt to control the spread of the pandemic.
President Trump has received criticism for labeling the virus the ‘Chinese coronavirus’, but the lawsuit is clear in targeting the PRC for “. . causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up for their own economic self-interest,” the complaint says. “The defendants’ conduct has caused and will continue to cause personal injuries and deaths, as well as other damages.”

The Wuhan Weapons Lab

The lawsuit, on behalf of five Floridian plaintiffs, refers also to the Wuhan-based bio-weapons lab that could have developed the virus and then negligently permitted its spread globally.

The PRC, the lawsuit alleges, created “essentially a giant Petri dish” in the region near Wuhan, creating the global COVID-19 outbreak.

The lawsuit alleges claims of negligence, emotional distress, public nuisance and strict liability for “conducting ultrahazardous activity.”
“The PRC and the other defendants knew that COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up for their own economic self-interest,” the complaint says.

“The defendants’ conduct has caused and will continue to cause personal injuries and deaths, as well as other damages.”

The coronavirus class action lawsuit was filed by Logan Alters, Marta Reyes, Lawrence Wood, Stephen Clyne, and The Pitching Lab, also known as TBT Training.

Pandemic Mishandled by the PRC

They seek to represent two Classes of people affected by the outbreak — a Class of all those in the United States affected by the outbreak, and a subclass of parties in Florida affected by the outbreak.

None of the plaintiffs have caught the coronavirus, but according to the pandemic class action lawsuit, they were still injured by the outbreak.

The coronavirus class action claims that people throughout the state of Florida, and people throughout the country were injured even if they have not been infected. They say the virus has taken an economic toll on the United States, and has caused panic, emotional distress and other injuries throughout the country.

The Targeted Parties

The plaintiffs have targeted their claims by filing against the People’s Republic of China, the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Emergency Management of the People’s Republic of China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, the People’s Government of Hubei Province, and the People’s Government of City of Wuhan, China.

The Florida plaintiffs claim that COVID-19 spread from a bio-weapon lab and then into a nearby marketplace, from which it spread.

Allegedly, there are only two bio-weapon labs in the People’s Republic of China, and one of them is the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is reportedly China’s only “level 4” microbiology lab, dealing with “the deadliest of viruses.”

The lawsuit claims that it was this laboratory, located close to the marketplace where COVID-19 originated and allegedly escaped due to lax security or due to the sale of lab animals to the nearby markets.

Researchers in China have allegedly been known to do this instead of cremating them, as is required by Chinese law.

Regardless of how the disease spread, the Florida residents argue the Chinese government did not respond appropriately to the outbreak.

Relief Claimed


  1. Certification of the Classes under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and appointment of Plaintiffs as representatives of the respective Classes and their undersigned counsel as Class counsel;
  2. An order appointing Named Plaintiffs as Class Representatives of the National and Florida Non-Economic Classes;
  3. An order appointing Named Plaintiff TBT Training as Class Representative of the National and Florida Commercial Classes;
  4. An order requiring that Defendants pay compensatory and other damages to Plaintiffs and the Class Members, for their economic and non-economic damages identified herein, to the full extent permitted by the law;
  5. An order awarding all damages allowed by any governing statutes;
  6. Statutory pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on any amounts awarded;
  7. Costs and expenses in this litigation, including, but not limited to, expert fees, filing fees, and reasonable attorneys’ fees; and
  8. Such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

We note that some of the allegations flows from research papers, amongst them a paper titled Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins of different bat species confer variable susceptibility to SARS-CoV entry.

It would interesting to see how many of the suits filed in the UK, USA and India against China will be successful in due course, and whether the SA government will follow suit with actions for damages against its biggest trading partner.

The further question that comes to mind is whether business owners in South Africa will in future be able to sue the SA Government for compensation in the event that the SA government does not claim damages from China if such a claim could have been instituted by the SA government.

During 2019 South Africa and China signed 93 trade agreements. Amongst them the following list is published. The details are however not availabe:

  • Action plan on the strengthening of the joint working group between China and South Africa
  • Memorandum of understanding on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road
  • Agreement between the Department of Environmental Affairs and the NDRC on Strengthening Co-operation in the Oceans Economy
  • Agreement on the waiver of visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders
  • Memorandum of understanding on co-operation in health and medical sciences between China and South Africa
  • Memorandum of understanding on co-operation and development on science parks
  • Memorandum of understanding between China and South Africa on the establishment of a China Cultural Centre in South Africa
  • Memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Enterprises, South Africa, and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the state council, China
  • Memorandum of understanding on anti-monopoly co-operation between the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and the Economic Development Department of South Africa
  • Memorandum of co-operation between the South African Revenue Service of the Republic of South Africa and the Great Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China
  • Action plan on co-operation in human resource development between the Department of Higher Education and Training of the Republic of South Africa and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China
  • Memorandum of understanding on strategic co-operation entered into between Eskom and State Corporation Of China.
  • Loan Agreement between the China Development Bank Corporation and Eskom
  • Framework Co-operation Agreement between the China Export Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure) and Transnet.
  • Strategic co-operation agreement to fund infrastructure and industrial development projects in South Africa and the rest of Africa between China Construction Bank Corporation and Industrial Corporation of South Africa.
  • Memorandum of understanding between the Beijing Automotive Group and the Industrial Development Corporation.
  • Co-operation framework agreement between the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and the China Communications Construction Company
  • Collaboration and framework agreement between Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Bank-South Africa
  • Co-operation agreement between Investec and the Export-Import Bank of China

Update as at September 2020


Plaintiffs sued Defendants People's Republic of China and various government entities alleging that plaintiffs have or are virtually certain to suffer physical illness or death, as well as emotional distress, as a result of the negligence of defendants in handling the COVID-19 outbreak
Plaintiff:THE PITCHING LAB LLC d/b/a TBT TRAINING, LAWRENCE WOOD, STEPHEN CLYNE, LOGAN ALTERS, MARTA REYES, BILL MCCUTCHEON, DR. ANDREW NEWMAN, BRYAN EADS, RAY BODINE, JUDY HART, SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI, SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC, SAMSON TOURS INC., JUPITER DONUTS, EAST AIR CORPORATION, SHERRY WERNER, TODD KUNTZE, SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER, ROBERT SHAFFER, SB HOLDINGS I, LLC, KIMBERLY ELLER, GEORGE ROGOZINSKI, Constance Greene, KARL UMBACH, ROBERT JARVIS, Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc., JENNIFER MITCHELL, LINDA IGLESIAS, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, JOHN VECCHIARELLO, LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO, WILLIAM DAMELIO, GALLERY ART GROUP, INC., JESSICA MERRITT and ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL
Defendant:THE PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT OF CITY OF WUHAN, CHINA, MINISTRY OF CIVIL AFFAIRS OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, NATIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT OF HUBAI PROVINCE, MINISTRY OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, WUHAN HEALTH COMMISSION, WUHAN INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGY, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA, HUBEI HEALTH COMMISSION and THE PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT OF HUBEI PROVINCE
Case Number:1:2020cv21108
Filed:March 12, 2020
Court:US District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Presiding Judge:Ursula Ungaro
Nature of Suit:P.I.: Other
Cause of Action:28:1332
Jury Demanded By:Plaintiff
Docket Report
Date FiledDocument Text
May 8, 2020 Filing 17 STATUS REPORT by SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER, RAY BODINE, LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO, STEPHEN CLYNE, WILLIAM DAMELIO, BRYAN EADS, EAST AIR CORPORATION, KIMBERLY ELLER, GALLERY ART GROUP, INC., Constance Greene, JUDY HART, LINDA IGLESIAS, ROBERT JARVIS, JUPITER DONUTS, TODD KUNTZE, BILL MCCUTCHEON, JESSICA MERRITT, ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL, JENNIFER MITCHELL, Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc., ANDREW NEWMAN, MARTA REYES, GEORGE ROGOZINSKI, SAMSON TOURS INC., SB HOLDINGS I, LLC, SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC, ROBERT SHAFFER, SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, KARL UMBACH, JOHN VECCHIARELLO, SHERRY WERNER, LAWRENCE WOOD (Moore, Matthew)
May 7, 2020Opinion or Order Filing 16 ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DROP PARTIES PURSUANT TO RULE 21, granting #15 Motion to Drop Parties Pursuant to Rule 21. Signed by Judge Ursula Ungaro on 5/7/2020. See attached document for full details. (pcs)
May 5, 2020 Filing 15 Plaintiff's MOTION TO DROP PARTIES/DEFENDANTS, MINISTRY OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA AND MINISTRY OF CIVIL AFFAIRS OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA PURSUANT TO RULE 21 by LOGAN ALTERS, SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER, RAY BODINE, LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO, STEPHEN CLYNE, WILLIAM DAMELIO, BRYAN EADS, EAST AIR CORPORATION, KIMBERLY ELLER, GALLERY ART GROUP, INC., Constance Greene, JUDY HART, LINDA IGLESIAS, ROBERT JARVIS, JUPITER DONUTS, TODD KUNTZE, BILL MCCUTCHEON, JESSICA MERRITT, ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL, JENNIFER MITCHELL, Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc., ANDREW NEWMAN, MARTA REYES, GEORGE ROGOZINSKI, SAMSON TOURS INC., SB HOLDINGS I, LLC, SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC, ROBERT SHAFFER, SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, KARL UMBACH, JOHN VECCHIARELLO, SHERRY WERNER, LAWRENCE WOOD. (Attachments: #1 Text of Proposed Order PROPOSED ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DROP PARTIES PURSUANT TO RULE 21)(Moore, Matthew)
May 5, 2020 Filing 14 Notice of Entry of Parties Listed NOTE: New Filer(s) will appear twice, since they are also a new party in the case. New Filer(s)/Party(s): COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA, WUHAN HEALTH COMMISSION, HUBEI HEALTH COMMISSION and WUHAN INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGY, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. (Moore, Matthew)
May 5, 2020 Filing 13 Notice of Entry of Parties Listed NOTE: New Filer(s) will appear twice, since they are also a new party in the case. New Filer(s)/Party(s): TODD KUNTZE, SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER, JESSICA MERRITT, JOHN VECCHIARELLO, LINDA IGLESIAS, Constance Greene, BRYAN EADS, JENNIFER MITCHELL, ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL, LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO, RAY BODINE, GEORGE ROGOZINSKI, KIMBERLY ELLER, SHERRY WERNER, WILLIAM DAMELIO, JUDY HART, SB HOLDINGS I, LLC, ROBERT JARVIS, SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC, BILL MCCUTCHEON, ANDREW NEWMAN, Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc., JUPITER DONUTS, GALLERY ART GROUP, INC., SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI, SAMSON TOURS INC., EAST AIR CORPORATION, ROBERT SHAFFER and KARL UMBACH, SB HOLDINGS I, LLC, SHERRY WERNER, EAST AIR CORPORATION, GALLERY ART GROUP, INC., JOHN VECCHIARELLO, ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL, SAMSON TOURS INC., ROBERT JARVIS, LINDA IGLESIAS, SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI, ROBERT SHAFFER, JUPITER DONUTS, TODD KUNTZE, Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc., SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER, KARL UMBACH, JUDY HART, BILL MCCUTCHEON, WILLIAM DAMELIO, SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC, GEORGE ROGOZINSKI, Constance Greene, JESSICA MERRITT, RAY BODINE, LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO, KIMBERLY ELLER, ANDREW NEWMAN, JENNIFER MITCHELL and BRYAN EADS.. Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party TODD KUNTZE(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SAUNDRA ANDRINGA-MEUER(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party JESSICA MERRITT(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party JOHN VECCHIARELLO(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party LINDA IGLESIAS(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party Constance Greene(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party BRYAN EADS(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party JENNIFER MITCHELL(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party ESTATE OF JAMES A MITCHELL(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party LORRAINE CAGGIANO MAIORINO(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party RAY BODINE(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party GEORGE ROGOZINSKI(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party KIMBERLY ELLER(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SHERRY WERNER(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party WILLIAM DAMELIO(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party JUDY HART(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SB HOLDINGS I, LLC(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party ROBERT JARVIS(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SEAGRASS RESORT, LLC(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party BILL MCCUTCHEON(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party ANDREW NEWMAN(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party Mr. M's Sandwich Shop, Inc.(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party JUPITER DONUTS(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party GALLERY ART GROUP, INC.(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SOUTH FLORIDA SURFING CORP. d/b/a ISLAND WATER SPORTS MIAMI(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party SAMSON TOURS INC.(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party EAST AIR CORPORATION(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party ROBERT SHAFFER(pty:pla), Attorney Matthew T Moore added to party KARL UMBACH(pty:pla). (Moore, Matthew)
May 5, 2020 Filing 12 Clerks Notice to Filer re #11 Amended Complaint. Parties/Mediator Not Added. ERROR. The Filer failed to add all parties from the complaint. Filer is instructed to file a Notice of Entry of Parties Listed into CM/ECF and add all the additional parties. (lbc)
May 4, 2020 Filing 11 First AMENDED COMPLAINT Pursuant to F.R.C.P.15(a)(1) against All Defendants, filed by LAWRENCE WOOD, MARTA REYES, LOGAN ALTERS, STEPHEN CLYNE, THE PITCHING LAB LLC. (Attachments: #1 Exhibit Composite Exhibit A, #2 Exhibit Composite Exhibit B, #3 Exhibit Composite Exhibit C)(Moore, Matthew)
April 23, 2020Opinion or Order Filing 10 ORDER granting #9 Motion for Extension of Time to Comply with the Court's Order Setting Initial Planning and Scheduling Conference. Scheduling Conference set for 9/4/2020 09:30 AM before Judge Ursula Ungaro. Signed by Judge Ursula Ungaro on 4/23/2020. See attached document for full details. (drz)
April 15, 2020 Filing 9 MOTION for Extension of Time to Comply with Court's Order Setting Initial Planning and Scheduling Conference re #8 Order Setting/Cancelling Hearing,, Order Requiring Joint Scheduling Report, by STEPHEN CLYNE, MARTA REYES, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, LAWRENCE WOOD. Responses due by 4/29/2020 (Attachments: #1 Text of Proposed Order)(Moore, Matthew)
March 17, 2020Opinion or Order Filing 8 ORDER SETTING INITIAL PLANNING AND SCHEDULING CONFERENCE (Scheduling Conference set for 5/1/2020 09:30 AM in Miami Division before Judge Ursula Ungaro, Joint Scheduling Report due by 4/17/2020) Signed by Judge Ursula Ungaro on 3/17/2020. See attached document for full details. (pcs)
March 16, 2020Opinion or Order Filing 7 ORDER granting #6 MOTION to Drop Party/Plaintiff Logan Alters Pursuant to Rule 21 filed by LAWRENCE WOOD, STEPHEN CLYNE, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, MARTA REYES, LOGAN ALTERS. Signed by Judge Ursula Ungaro on 3/16/2020. See attached document for full details. (pcs)
March 13, 2020 Filing 6 MOTION to Drop Party/Plaintiff Logan Alters Pursuant to Rule 21 by LOGAN ALTERS, STEPHEN CLYNE, MARTA REYES, THE PITCHING LAB LLC, LAWRENCE WOOD. (Attachments: #1 Text of Proposed Order)(Moore, Matthew)
March 13, 2020 Filing 5 NOTICE of Change of Address by Vincent Duffy (Duffy, Vincent)
March 13, 2020 Filing 4 NOTICE of Change of Address by Matthew T Moore (Moore, Matthew)
March 13, 2020 Filing 3 Summons Issued as to PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA. (pcs)
March 12, 2020 Filing 2 Clerks Notice of Judge Assignment to Judge Ursula Ungaro. Pursuant to 28 USC 636(c), the parties are hereby notified that the U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O'Sullivan is available to handle any or all proceedings in this case. If agreed, parties should complete and file the Consent form found on our website. It is not necessary to file a document indicating lack of consent. Pro se (NON-PRISONER) litigants may receive Notices of Electronic Filings (NEFS) via email after filing a Consent by Pro Se Litigant (NON-PRISONER) to Receive Notices of Electronic Filing. The consent form is available under the forms section of our website. (pcs) Modified on 3/13/2020 (pcs).
March 12, 2020Filing 1 COMPLAINT against All Defendants. Filing fees $ 400.00 receipt number AFLSDC-12595677, filed by LAWRENCE WOOD, MARTA REYES, LOGAN ALTERS, STEPHEN CLYNE, THE PITCHING LAB LLC d/b/a TBT TRAINING. (Attachments: #1 Civil Cover Sheet Civil Cover Sheet, #2 Summon(s) Summons)(Moore, Matthew)
March 12, 2020Filing 1 COMPLAINT against All Defendants. Filing fees $ 400.00 receipt number AFLSDC-12595677, filed by LAWRENCE WOOD, MARTA REYES, LOGAN ALTERS, STEPHEN CLYNE, THE PITCHING LAB LLC d/b/a TBT TRAINING. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summon(s) Summons)(Moore, Matthew)



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