The idea for the suit originated with Theodore and Russell Berman, the 40-year-old identical twins who run the firm. Outraged by the suggestion from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijain Zhao that the U.S. might be to blame for the virus, they asked Moore and his colleague Jeremy Alters, the firm’s chief litigation strategist, to look into the possibility of a suit.
Following the emergence of the virus in early December, the Chinese government actively downplayed the extent of the outbreak, disciplining eight doctors for “rumormongering” and forcing one doctor who’d sounded the alarm in a WeChat group to recant. (He died from the virus shortly thereafter.)
That said, the U.S. government has also actively downplayed the danger of the virus, dismissing warnings by medical professionals and almost certainly exacerbating the problem. The two superpowers have been busily attempting to cast blame onto one another.
Despite a reprimand by the WHO, the Trump administration has sought to rebrand Covid-19 the “Chinese virus,” presumably as a way of deflecting attention from its own failures.
Alters, who was once described as “Miami’s class-action-lawsuit king,” has tangled with the People’s Republic of China once before, winning a large settlement against Chinese manufacturers of toxic drywall, including a state-owned company. (He was disbarred in 2018 over financial matters, and is acting only as a strategist — not an attorney — in the Covid-19 suit.)
It took Moore just 24 hours to write the Coronavirus complaint. Speed was of the essence, Alters claims, because, “we wanted to put China on notice that we’re going to seek remedy through U.S. courts. It’s a massive undertaking. You’re suing a world superpower. But it’s the right thing to do at the right moment.
Our country is going to lose hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars, and China needs to pay for it.” (He hastens to add that whatever the culpability of Chinese authorities, the Chinese people are victims of the crisis like everyone else.)