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Lawsuit in Dallas federal court accuses Chinese government of creating coronavirus as ‘biological weapon’

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC/TNS)

Some Americans are focused on testing. Medical professionals are working on a coronavirus vaccine. And lawmakers are hashing out an economic aid package.

Lawyer Larry Klayman and his Freedom Watch nonprofit want China to pay — for creating the COVID-19 virus as “an illegal biological weapon” in an “illegal and internationally outlawed bioweapons facility.”

The Florida man filed a class-action federal lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas against the People’s Republic for creating “massive damage.” The lawsuit seeks “an award in excess of $20 trillion U.S. Dollars.” The effort, however, is not expected to be successful in court.

Coronavirus, which President Donald Trump calls “the Chinese virus,” has spread to the U.S. and worldwide, infecting thousands. The economic damage is expected to be significant.

Klayman filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself, Freedom Watch and Buzz Photos, a McKinney business that specializes in high school sports photography. He said he expects many more people to receive class status and be added to the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

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Buzz Photos lost about $50,000 over the weekend and had to lay off employees due to the public health crisis, the lawsuit said. The business has shut down and “stands on the verge of bankruptcy,” it said.

“Since biological weapons have been outlawed since at least 1925, including by China’s membership in treaties, these illegal weapons constitute and are in effect terrorist-related weapons of mass destruction of population centers,” the lawsuit said.

Klayman, often described as a right-wing activist, said in a news release that his lawsuit is not political but was filed “to have a jury award damages to the victims of China’s release” of the virus.

Critics have called Klayman a nutty conspiracy theorist. He has made headlines by suing U.S. presidents, world leaders and foreign governments. The Southern Poverty Law Center described him as a “pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly notorious for suing everyone from Iran’s Supreme Leader to his own mother.”

“COVID-19 was designed by China to be a very ‘effective’ and catastrophic biological warfare weapon to kill mass populations,” Klayman’s lawsuit said.

The defendants in the suit are listed as the People’s Republic of China; the People’s Liberation Army, the official military of China; the Wuhan Institute of Virology; Shi Zhengli, the institute’s director; and Major General Chen Wei of China’s Liberation Army.

Researchers believe the virus originated in a “wet market,” or live animal market, in Wuhan, China.

But the 24-page lawsuit alleges that China created the virus “as a biological weapon in violation of China’s agreements under international treaties,” and that it recklessly allowed “its release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology into the city of Wuhan, China, in Hubei Province.”

The Chinese government failed to prevent the institute’s employees from becoming infected and “carrying it into the surrounding community and proliferation into the United States,” the lawsuit says.

The suit’s first claim is listed as “aiding and abetting the risk of death or serious bodily injuries to United States citizens and members of the class and subclasses.”

Providing material support to terrorists is the second claim. The third claim, of six total, is conspiring to cause injury and death to Americans.

“Although it appears that the COVID-19 virus was released at an unplanned, unexpected time, it was prepared and stockpiled as a biological weapon to be used against China’s perceived enemies, including but not limited to the people of the United States.”

Klayman is suing The Dallas Morning News on behalf of Demetrick Pennie, a Dallas police sergeant, in federal court in Dallas.

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© 2020 The Dallas Morning News