By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
A judge in New York Friday threw out a $22 million lawsuit against former President Donald Trump alleging his remarks calling the coronavirus the “kung flu” and “China virus” caused harm to the Asian American community.
The lawsuit filed by the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition sued Trump both as an individual and as former President of the United States. It was originally filed in May of last year.
“The truth matters, words have consequences … especially from those in powerful and influential positions,” the complaint stated. “
In his decision, District Judge John Koeltl from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York wrote that the plaintiffs lacked jurisdiction to sue in that state.
“The plaintiff argues that the defendant’s remarks
were carried on TV and social media in New York but that does
not provide a basis for personal jurisdiction in New York for
claims of defamation or intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress,” the judge wrote.
The complaint alleged the statements made by Trump were “defamatory: and that they exposed both the Chinese and Asian American community to public discrimination, hate, contempt, ridicule, verbal abuse and physical violence.”
It sought damages of $22 million-one for every Asian American living in the United States.
However, the judge ruled a president has “sovereign immunity” and cannot be sued unless the federal government gives its consent.
“A suit for damages against a federal official in the official’s official capacity is considered to be a suit against the United States, from which
that official is immune unless there is an applicable waiver of
sovereign immunity,” Koeltl said.
Attorneys for the Chinese American Civil Rights Coalition argued that “sovereign immunity” is outdated, but the judge said the Supreme Court and the Court of appeals for the Second Circuit have both upheld the doctrine.
The judge also upheld Trump’s remarks on first amendment grounds and said the plaintiffs failed to make a case for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
“The comments in this case fall well short even of the language
that courts have found insufficiently extreme or offensive to support an infliction of emotional distress claim,” the judge said.
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