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Attorney General Fitch gets more time to serve People’s Republic of China

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – If you sue China, don’t bother mailing the service process.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch recently learned the hard way that the government would reject it.

About a year after filing suit against the nation of more than a billion people, Fitch has been given more time to serve process, after the Chinese government rejected Hague Service Convention articles to have the process mailed.

She said the process will now have to be served through diplomatic channels.

Fitch filed for a time extension on April 30. The extension was granted by District Judge Taylor McNeel the same day.

According to the order, the state has been given an additional 180 days to serve process to the defendants, including the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party of China, the National Health Commission of China, Wuhan Institute of Virology, and others.

“Because the People’s Republic of China has objected to articles of the Hague … that allows for service by mail, Hague procedures must be directly followed by diplomatic channels,” an attorney with Fitch’s office wrote in their motion.

The motion goes on to state that Fitch’s office has brought on an international litigation support firm to assist in the process, and that the process may take another year to complete.

Fitch filed suit last spring, citing the “enormous loss of life, human suffering and economic turmoil experienced by all Mississippians from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The state’s suit alleges that the Chinese government allowed the virus to spread and then attempted to cover it up after the outbreak began.

In November, Fitch asked for additional time to serve Chinese officials, citing the international nature of the case and the need to handle other COVID-19 matters locally.

The Hague is located in the Netherlands and was established in 1964 to serve international process, according to the American Bar Association.

The procedure for serving process via the Hague was expected to take 16 weeks.

Officials with Fitch’s office were not available for comment after hours.

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