Lawsuit filed against WHO over its handling of coronavirus outbreak

Three Westchester men want organization to pay 'incalculable' damages.

April 21, 2020, 12:34 PM

Three men in Westchester, New York, are suing the World Health Organization contending it mishandled its response to the novel pandemic and engaged in a cover-up with China.

Richard Kling and Steve Rotker of New Rochelle and Gennaro Purchia of Scarsdale, filed the suit in White Plains federal court Monday and claimed they suffered "injury, damage and loss" because of the outbreak and want the WHO to pay "incalculable" damages. Steven Blau, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, argued WHO didn't do enough to ensure the Chinese government was transparent of its COVID-19 safeguards.

"The Chinese government and the WHO intentionally misled the international community, including the named Plaintiffs, about the coronavirus and its devastating medical and economic effects,” he wrote in the lawsuit.

PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb, 28, 2020.
Denis Balibouse/Reuters, FILE

Representatives from WHO didn't immediately return messages for comment on the lawsuit. The suit does not provide further detail about the alleged harm suffered by the plaintiffs.

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President Trump has been critical of WHO leadership and last week said he would pull U.S. funding, even though Congress controls the money. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the organization last week and reiterated that it did not give preference to any nation.

"Our mission and mandate is to work with all nations," he said. "COVID-19 does not discriminate between nationalities, ethnicities or ideologies, neither do we."

PHOTO: A medic from Empress EMS loads a suspected COVID-19 patient from the Regency Extended Care Center into an ambulance, April 7, 2020, in Yonkers, New York.
A medic from Empress EMS loads a suspected COVID-19 patient from the Regency Extended Care Center into an ambulance, April 7, 2020, in Yonkers, New York.
John Moore/Getty Images

Westchester County has 24,656 positive coronavirus cases and 904 related deaths as of Tuesday, according to New York state's Health Department.

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