Politics - News Analysis
Trump Just Nailed with a One Trillion Dollar Lawsuit Over American COVID Deaths
We need to be honest, upfront here. This is not the lawsuit or claim of liability that Trump fears. This is a lawsuit filed by an individual in New Jersey, an ex-con, with a complaint written with the help of an attorney but without an attorney representing the plaintiff. This suit will not sink Donald Trump. But it is important in other ways.
According to New Jersey.com,
Arnett Thomas never thought he would be battling Donald Trump in court. After all, Thomas is a convicted murderer. He spent two decades in a variety of New Jersey prisons before his release in 2000. But sometimes it takes a guy who knows something about wrong-doing to understand when something is wrong.
This is how Thomas, now 71, disabled and living in a government-sponsored housing complex in Orange came to file a lawsuit in federal court in Newark that blames Trump for America’s massive — and growing — COVID-19 death toll.
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“The former president literally became the very domestic enemy to the Constitution he swore to defend,” Thomas wrote in his 29-page class-action lawsuit that now includes more than 75 co-plaintiffs.
There are several problems we can identify already. Class-Action lawsuits are one of the worst vehicles to actually compensate victims, generally. In class action lawsuits, generally only the attorneys really benefit. The public has an understandable belief that the “biggest” lawsuits or most complex suits are “class action” lawsuits. No, “class action” lawsuits are usually filed against a company for a defective product and filed as a “class” of people because one could never name all the people impacted by the product. The attorneys don’t know the identities of everyone impacted until they come out of the woodwork themselves. That is why one sees commercials “If you have been harmed by …” Attorneys are under a legal obligation to advertise the lawsuit and people may be entitled to some relief.
This lawsuit is atypical in that “class actions” almost never name one individual as one defendant, normally it is a company. But that doesn’t preclude it legally. What could preclude the suit is that the judge first has to “certify” the class, meaning the judge agrees that a class of people has a grievance they all share. The problem is that Trump doesn’t necessarily bear the same amount of blame for everyone in this class, as opposed to toxic products. The other problem is that Trump might have complete immunity for any actions he took as president. One would have to prove that he mislead people or did something else wrong while acting entirely outside the presidency – perhaps thinking about his businesses? Hard to tell.
The benefit to this lawsuit is that it could get the public thinking more about who might be responsible for passing along misinformation. Trump might be one, but we would concentrate more upon media companies, certain anchors, and then find a connection to Trump. It has been reported that Hannity used to talk to Trump at night. If Trump was telling Hannity what to say about COVID and that came out in a lawsuit against Hannity? Well, then there’s an issue. We know that the Murdochs worry about it.
One would have to prove a direct relationship between the person harmed (perhaps dead), what that person “heard” and “believed” and then how that person came down with the disease. Difficult, but not impossible.
If Donald Trump is going to face consequences for his handling of COVID, it should actually be criminal or civil charges filed by the government for recklessness or criminal negligence. The problem is that there are several crimes lined up in front of that particular charge, crimes like possible sedition, and – if somehow he colluded with Russia, possible treason. Trump’s recklessness with COVID is unforgivable and he’ll forever be known as one of history’s monsters. But in terms of criminal or civil liability, it’s a little down the list.
But this lawsuit should get Americans thinking about Donald Trump’s unique responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths and who he might have influenced, perhaps people who went further in providing disinformation. Fox News? OAN? Rush Limbaugh’s estate?
Trump should and likely will pay a price. It will take a while to sort out the most solid approach and the remedies sought. This lawsuit might get some headlines that get more people thinking. Someone needs to pay for what happened. If not Trump, there are many other candidates.
[email protected] and on Twitter @JasonMiciak