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Tipsheet

WHO Gets Hit With a Class-action Lawsuit Over Wuhan Coronavirus Response

Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

The World Health Organization was hit with a class-action lawsuit Monday from residents in New York’s Westchester County, which was one of the original coronavirus hotspots in the U.S.

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The three New York residents—Richard Kling, a doctor, Steve Rotker and Gennaro Purchia, accuse the WHO of a coverup and claim they were “injured and damaged by WHO’s negligent conduct.” The lawsuit "seeks unspecified damages for...WHO's 'incalculable' harm to the roughly 756,000 adult residents in Westchester County who would make up the class," the New York Post reports.

“The WHO mishandled and mismanaged the response to the discovery of the coronavirus and upon information and belief, engaged in a cover-up of the COVID- 19 pandemic in China,” the lawsuit states, according to the Post.

The WHO was “causing and/or contributing to the subsequent spread of the coronavirus all over the world, including to the United States of America and the State of New York," the three individuals also claim. 

Chimène Keitner, an international law professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, said the lawsuit will likely be dismissed because U.S. law affords the WHO “functional immunity” from such cases.

She also said the complaint did not detail the alleged harm suffered by the individual plaintiffs, or show what legal duty the WHO owed to them.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China itself also faces multiple private lawsuits in the United States seeking damages related to the pandemic. (Reuters)

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President Trump recently announced he will halt U.S. funding to the WHO while his administration investigates the organization's handling of the pandemic. 

"Today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Trump said last Tuesday in a briefing at the White House.

"As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability," he said. "One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations."

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