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Barriers to Collecting COVID-19 Damages


New York, NY, June 11, 2020 --( Lawsuits are being brought on both sides of the Pacific as the PRC and the US accuse each other of causing the COVID-19 crisis.

By way of illustration of this trend, Legal Language Services’ (LLS) senior consultant, Tom McLean, Esq. and LLS’s president, Victor Hertz, reviewed a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs sought to recover one-trillion dollars from the PRC for COVID-19 related damages. In the LLS blog post “Barriers to Collecting COVID-19 Damages” McLean and Hertz consider the economic question of the return on investment in filing this lawsuit.

McLean and Hertz look into the legal framework that would impact the success or failure of the lawsuit, in particular, how China can be sued in a US court. They examine the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, in which a foreign government can only be sued if the cause of action fits into an exception to the act and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which grants US courts jurisdiction over any country that sponsors terrorism, not just so-called rogue nations.

McLean and Hertz argue, “the first step toward asserting jurisdiction against any defendant is serving process” and proceed to elucidate the various methods of serving process on China via The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Each potential method is analyzed and Hertz and McLean conclude that each method is individually and collectively unlikely to prevail and would likely “leave US courts without a method to assert jurisdiction.”

They go on to posit that, even were the PRC to be successfully served, it is “likely the PRC would default on any and all FSIA-COVID-19 claims... it is very hard to imagine that the PRC will enforce a US judgement that makes the country liable for COVID-19 damages.”

Hertz points out that “as there is no realistic probability of recovery of losses from COVID-19 arising from filing suits against the PRC in a US court, we need to ask why file these suits at all? Perhaps the political benefit or PR benefit is sufficient to justify the litigation. But any potential political gain with a domestic audience in the US (or the PRC) must be weighed against the tangible damage to short run economic relationships and damage to long term benefits of international cooperation.”

About Legal Language Services

Since 1983, Legal Language Services has helped US law firms, sole practitioners and governments communicate across linguistic and political boundaries. LLS is the premier source of legal translation in the United States. They also provide the interpreting backbone for 911 calls. Having been through fires, floods, hurricanes, recessions, stock market crashes and the aftermath of 9/11, they have the experience and the expertise to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, LLS offers:

· Secure HIPAA-compliant 24/7 telephonic interpreting service in more than 200 languages and dialects.

· Interpreting services are available on demand via a secure HIPAA-compliant video-remote platform, available in twenty languages, including American Sign Language (ASL).

· Verbatim transcription, legal services and a broad spectrum of international litigation services, including expert consulting on international service of process, legal discovery services and evidence-taking abroad.

For more information about Legal Language Services, please visit their website at

Contact Information:
Legal Language Services
Dan Dalton
Contact via Email

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