Are you wondering who can be sued for COVID-19? Many Canadians are going to be out a lot of money because of COVID-19. This is true regardless of if you are a business owner or an employee.
The amount of damage to the Canadian economy will be felt for many years to come. Many people in Ontario have contacted Clearway Law looking for a lawyer to file a lawsuit.
This begs the question; who can you sue to recover your loss of income and any suffering you have incurred?
Filing A Lawsuit For The Coronavirus
Even though the courts are mostly shut down, lawsuits are already starting to get filed. Two people from Ontario have decided to sue numerous Canadian airlines when they did not receive a refund for their Hawaiian vacation. But the real question is, who is responsible for the spread of the virus in the first place?
The evidence about who is responsible won’t surface for many years. That hasn’t stopped at least two lawsuits from being filed against The National Health Commission of the Republic of China, the city of Wuhan, the Ministry of Community Affairs (China), and Hubei Province.
Read about how lawsuits work.
Lawsuits For The Coronavirus
Both lawsuits are for any people or businesses in the United States who have suffered an injury, damage, and loss related to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Both lawsuits ask for an amount of money to be determined later.
Also, the lawsuits ask for punitive damages, which really means compensation for doing something wrong.
Since this pandemic is so new and has not been litigated, anything can happen. But generally, there are two avenues an employee can make a claim:
- The employer made a health violation
- The employer infringed on the individuals’ human rights
If you want to file a lawsuit and live in Ontario, Alberta or BC, reach out to us by filling out the form on the side of this page.
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Please send us the following information:
1. How long has the person been working at the place of employment?
2. How much do they make?
3. How old are they?
4. What kind of role do they have?
5. Were they fired?
6. Do they have a written employment contract?
State Immunity Act Of Canada
If the lawsuits were filed in Ontario, China would likely push to have the lawsuits thrown out due to the State Immunity Act. In most cases, a foreign state is immune from any court in Canada.
This Act was created to prevent Canadians from suing other countries and ruining the diplomatic efforts of Global Affairs Canada.
There are two situations where the State Immunity Act doesn’t count. This is if any death or personal injury is suffered by Canadians in Canada. Also, if there is any damage or loss of property that occurs in Canada. Therefore, the person filing the lawsuit would still have a good chance to sue another country.
How Would The Lawsuit Work?
It’s possible to do a class action against either level of government (provincial, provincial, or federal) in another country. Because class actions are so complicated, they require massive financial and logistical support.
Whoever files the lawsuit would likely need to get funding for adverse costs and disbursements from a class proceedings fund or private funders.
It might be possible to partner with class action funds. Law firms such as Koskie Minsky have a great class action department and they have partnered with other law firms in the past.
What Is A Possible Outcome Of China Being Sued For COVID-19?
While it would be very expensive to go to trial with a foreign country, there might be a settlement if there was a reasonable cause of action. Also, a foreign state might be interested in settling to keep their country out of the media’s attention.
Many people are looking for someone to blame for COVID-19, and no country wants to be the one responsible or liable.
I go to China once a year, and I know many Communist Chiefs. If there is one thing I know about China, it’s that they would never settle. Settling would imply that the Chinese government did something wrong, which they would never accept.
They would rather hire an entire law firm and spend tens of millions of dollars defending the lawsuit to the end.
China is supporting many countries (such as Italy and Spain) to look like a hero in the Virus outbreak. The last thing they want is to lose a lawsuit and be found to be at blame by a judge.
Coronavirus Pandemic And Business Interruption
Are you curious about the coronavirus lawsuits? Maybe you want to hire a business lawyer to file a lawsuit yourself? Many companies have seen massive business interruptions.
There have been several class-action lawsuits filed against the Chinese government, cruise lines, and several insurance companies.
A lot of people have lost their lives in this crisis. As of the writing of this article, around 2000 Canadians have died. In the USA, the number is around 43,000 people.
There has also been massive economic damage. Companies and individuals have the ability to calculate the total amount of financial loss they have incurred. Because of this, they have the ability to ask for those costs (or damages) to be reimbursed.
Of course, the responsible party needs to be located. The evidence needs to be organized. Further, the responsible party needs to be served with the court papers. Finally, this will start the lawsuit against the defendant.
Legal Action For COVID-19
So far 6.5 trillion dollars have been lost because of the coronavirus outbreak. There have been lawsuits filed in the USA and the United Kingdom against China and several companies.
Perhaps it is time for Canada to start looking at who should be sued. States such as New York and provinces like Quebec have been devastated. But really the effect has been felt all around the world. For the first time countries have shut their borders with each other.
The Canadian and USA border was established in some form on September 3, 1783. The border has mostly remained open over time, with the exception of the war of 1812. The fact that the border would close shows the large impact of the coronavirus. It shows that the virus can divide even the closest of friends.
Who Should Be Sued For The Coronavirus?
There are a few different options for who might be liable for the crisis. Three potential parties seem to be potential defendants. These are China, Donald Trump, and the media. Also, you may or may not agree, but we will examine if it is possible to sue them.
The virus was first found in Wuhan, China. For this reason, many people are planning to sue the Chinese government. China has a relatively good reporting system for health care.
Further, their government exercises complete power over their people. This should have made it easier for them to control the virus. Regardless of what happens in China, other countries tend to distrust the Chinese government. This is because China is infamous for inaccurate reporting.
A lot of local politicians in Wuhan were likely afraid to report negative news to the top brass in Beijing. This has been the case many times in the past. However, it is unlikely that we will ever find out what truly happened in Wuhan. This is because the local officials would have had plenty of time to destroy evidence in the last several months.
China plans to take over the world with its economy. Therefore, the last thing they want is to be blamed for an event that might kill half a million people.
It could be said that China failed to contain the virus. Further, the argument could be made that the virus would have been slowed down had proper reporting been done.
So can you sue the Chinese government or Wuhan? It is very hard for people to sue foreign governments. In Canada, there is an Act that makes it very hard for individuals to sue other countries. Any attempt to sue China would be extremely hard as you would first have to get an exception from the act.
There are exceptions, but they are extreme and require a trial in themselves. Someone once sued China for making a faulty firearm that killed someone. China didn’t bother replying to the lawsuit. Despite not responding, instead of a default judgment being awarded, the lawsuit was thrown out.
The main point of making it hard for Canadians to sue other countries is that the Canadian government doesn’t want to be sued by other countries.
Further, Global Affairs Canada doesn’t want lawsuits to get in the way of improving relations with other countries. While lawsuits are common in Canada and the USA, they are seen as very serious in other parts of the world.
Donald Trump and Coronavirus Lawsuits
Is it possible to sue the president of the USA? The short answer is “it depends.” If the president was acting in his role as president, you cannot sue. However, if Donald Trump got drunk after work and ran you over, you could sue. This is because he was “off duty.”
However, any official presidential response (or lack of response) to the virus would make it so you could not sue. As such, you will have to look elsewhere for your lawsuit.
Business Interruption For Cruise Lines
Some people are wanting to sue the cruise lines. This is because people were caught on the cruise liners for weeks. It is possible to sue them as they are a private or public company. We will be doing more research on the cruise line lawsuits and filing updates to this article. Cruise lines are often in international waters, which can make the law very complex.
Who Should Be Sued For COVID-19?
Whoever sues the Chinese government must be willing to spend millions of dollars on the lawsuit, and fight to the end.
Who should be sued for COVID-19? Time will tell.
Alistair Vigier is the author of this article. He is the CEO of Clearway Law, an online marketplace for legal services, that provides lawyer referrals and access to a database of legal information for BC and Ontario residents.
Do you want to book a consultation to speak to a business lawyer about what could happen if you sued for COVID-19? Contact us.
Author: Alistair Vigier, CEO of ClearWay Law