Mississippi and Missouri sued China in federal court in the initial days of the pandemic, joining several class-action lawsuits against Beijing as the Trump administration was blaming China as a key actor in the pandemic.
The virus is said to have originated in Wuhan, and the secretive communist government was accused of downplaying the virus and misleading the world in the early days of the pandemic, leaving other countries, including the U.S., exposed and without time to prepare.
Legal experts have warned that the cases face long odds because foreign governments are generally granted immunity from domestic suits. But that doesn’t mean the Republican states plan on giving up holding the Chinese behemoth accountable.
"Mississippi families and businesses deserve to be made whole for China’s malicious and dangerous actions," Attorney General Lynn Fitch declared in a statement this week. "The suit is currently proceeding through the judicial process, and we look forward to the opportunity to pursue justice for the people of Mississippi."
Summonses were issued to the Chinese Communist Party and a number of Chinese ministries by a Mississippi court in December, according to WLBT, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Missouri became the first state to file a lawsuit against China in April last year, accusing the country of being responsible for the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and seeking damages to make up for "the enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil" resulting from the disease.
The suit seeks to have the Chinese government, the CCP and other involved organizations "cease engaging in the abnormally dangerous activities, reimburse the cost of the State's abatement efforts, and pay compensatory and other damages..."
Missouri confirms that lawsuit is still in progress, more than a year later.
"We’re currently working on alternative methods of service, and are moving as expeditiously as possible on this case," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office told Fox News this week. "The Attorney General’s Office remains committed to holding the Chinese government accountable for their role in the pandemic."
The lawsuits are hampered in part by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which restricts Americans' ability to sue foreign governments except in certain circumstances. Missouri has sought to get around that by suing the Chinese Communist Party itself. Meanwhile, other Republican lawmakers have tried to reform the FSIA to allow citizens to sue China.
The push comes despite the Biden administration winding back much of the rhetoric and actions taken by the Trump administration in response to the Chinese role in the virus outbreak.
In February, the Biden administration expressed "deep concerns" about the probe into the Chinese handling of the coronavirus, over concerns about Chinese interference in the investigation.