“It was the negligence of the government that directly led to the death of my father,” said Xu, a Wuhan resident, in a phone interview with the Chinese-language Epoch Times on July 29. Xu filed a complaint with a local court on July 20.
She elaborated that if the municipal government had accurately informed the public about the outbreak at that time, she and other locals would have taken measures to protect themselves.
Xu is seeking compensation of 1.8 million yuan (about $258,000) from the municipal government for her financial loss, mental trauma, and her father’s medical expenses.
Three days after the interview, on the morning of Aug. 1, Xu sent a text message to The Epoch Times saying that she received a phone call from the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court informing her that her lawsuit was rejected, and that the complaint would be sent back to her.
Xu is not the first Chinese citizen to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from Chinese authorities, nor is she the first one to have her complaint rejected.
Xu that her 69-year-old father began showing flu-like symptoms on January 16.
“At that time, we didn’t know that the virus could be transmitted between people. We learned from the local media that there was an infectious disease spreading locally. We did not know exactly what the disease was,” Xu said.
She added: “We did hear that the disease was a form of pneumonia. But a few days later, the city government disputed that it was pneumonia.”
Because of what the city government said, she and her family did not take her father’s illness seriously, Xu said.
On Jan. 11, the Wuhan Health Commission reported on its website that it had “not found clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” in the new virus.
It was not until Jan. 20 that Beijing publicly acknowledged the CCP virus was contagious.
Xu said that her father’s condition worsened after he spent a week at a local hospital getting intravenous therapy. On Jan. 25, her father began to have a fever. A CT scan revealed that both of his lungs were seriously infected. He tested positive for the virus on Jan. 27.
She explained that she repeatedly called China’s emergency number but not a single hospital would take her father in. Her father was eventually admitted to the Guanggu branch of the Third Hospital of Wuhan on Jan. 29 and was immediately hospitalized in the intensive-care unit.
On Jan. 31, Xu said she got a call from the hospital saying that her father was in critical condition. The next call she received was at around 3 a.m. local time on Feb. 2, when the hospital told her that her father had passed away due to multiple organ failure.
Xu said that she suspected her father contracted the virus at the first hospital where he was treated for flu-like symptoms. She recalled that he was not wearing a mask at the time.
The Epoch Times was unable to reach Xu after receiving her text message.
Legal Challenge in China
Xu obtained legal assistance from the “COVID-19 Compensation Legal Advisory Group,” a consultancy group formed by two dozen lawyers and rights advocates in China and Chinese dissidents in the United States back in March. The group offers legal advice for victims in China who seek compensation and redress from Chinese authorities in connection to the outbreak.
Yang Zhanqing, a New York-based human rights advocate in the group, confirmed Xu’s legal setback with The Epoch Times.
He added that the fact that the court failed to issue a formal document announcing its decision was completely against the law.
When asked about why Xu was unreachable, Yang explained: “She must be subjected to some sort of threat. Before, she told me that local community [officials] showed up at her home.”
Zhang Hai was the first known Chinese citizen to file a COVID-19 lawsuit seeking compensation from Chinese authorities. He alleged that the government caused his father’s death, who passed away on Feb. 1.
On Jan. 17, Zhang drove his father back to Wuhan for hospital treatment, after the latter suffered a bone fracture in southern China’s Shenzhen city. Zhang’s father was admitted into the General Hospital of Central Theater Command in Wuhan and had a surgery.
Though the operation was successful, Zhang said his father developed a fever and tested positive for the virus on Jan. 30. His father passed away on Feb. 1.
He sued the Wuhan city government, Hubei provincial government, and the hospital for compensation of 2 million yuan (about $286,730).
Zhang sent his complaint to the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court on June 10, but the court rejected his case a week later—also without giving an explanation or issuing a formal document about the court’s decision.
Speaking to The Epoch Times, Zhang questioned the court’s decision to reject his case since he had documented evidence of the government’s negligence, he said.
He added that his case seems to have put pressure on the government; this was evidenced by authorities deciding to block his accounts on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
He added that he planned to lodge his case at a higher court. He concluded: “However they try to silence me, I am determined to hold them accountable.”