Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan: Americans Should be Allowed to Sue China Over COVID-19

May 11, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan announced today he has co-sponsored legislation that would allow U.S. citizens to sue China over the coronavirus. 

“China's lies about the origin, spread and lethality of the virus led to a global pandemic that has killed more than 80,000 Americans,” Buchanan said. “China must be held accountable both legally and financially.”

Buchanan co-sponsored the Stop China-Originated, Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Act, empowering Americans to sue China in U.S. court if it is proven that China manufactured the coronavirus. Questions have been raised about the origin of the virus and whether it emerged from animal markets in Wuhan providence or from a government laboratory in Wuhan.

The bill is modeled after the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which became law in 2016 after Congress overrode then-President Obama's veto. As a result of JASTA, lawsuits are now pending against Saudi Arabia for knowingly providing support to the al Qaeda terrorist group in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack. 

American intelligence officials have confirmed that the Chinese government engaged in a global disinformation campaign regarding the origins and spread of the coronavirus. During the early days of the outbreak in China’s Wuhan province the prevented health officials from both the United States and World Health Organization from investigating. Beijing has silenced whistleblowers in China and has expelled scores of Western journalists. The government continues to mislead the public on the true death toll and spread of coronavirus, refusing to release details on even current testing. 

Former Food and Drug Administrator Scott Gottlieb estimated that up to 95 percent of coronavirus cases could have been prevented if the Chinese government had taken swift action and alerted global health officials of the lethality of coronavirus. “China’s deceit has cost countless American lives,” Buchanan said.  

Specifically, the Stop COVID Act would create an exemption to the immunity protections that all foreign nations are provided under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), for cases where the nation intentionally or unintentionally releases a biological weapon resulting in bodily harm. This exemption would allow for American citizens to sue China in civilian court for their actions related to the coronavirus.

Last week, Buchanan introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act which rebuilds drug manufacturing in the United States following threats by China to cut off life-saving medications to Americans. "We need to stop acting as if China is our friend or a benign nation," Buchanan said. “They cannot be trusted.”

Buchanan was one of the first in Congress to call for the president to declare a public health emergency and to call for restricting flights into the country from China, the origin of the disease. In 2017, Buchanan proposed that Congress should create a pandemic response fund to combat deadly infectious diseases.