According to the U.S. Newsweek, the families of hundreds of patients who died of the novel coronavirus in Italy took legal action against local and national governments, claiming that Italy’s response to the epidemic was full of negligence and error, demanding compensation of 100 million euros.
500 family members in Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy, reportedly filed a civil lawsuit with prosecutors on Wednesday. The families sued Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Lombardy President Attilio Fontana.
The lawsuit accused the Italian authorities of being unprepared and failed to act quickly in the early outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in thousands of deaths in Lombardy.
According to NBC, Luca Fusco, the representative of the prosecution, said: “This is our ‘Christmas gift’ for those who should have taken action but did not. On December 25, there will be 70,000 empty chairs in Italy.”
“We believe that if properly planned, as repeated demands from the European Union and WHO, there will be much fewer deaths,” Fosco added.
According to the British Guardian, the focus of the lawsuit is that on February 23, after a hospital in Bergamo was found to have the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the authorities reopened the hospital hours later without immediately quarantining the relevant areas.
The lawsuit also accused Italian officials of failing to update national and regional pandemic response plans in time to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The attorneys on the family side are demanding approximately $315,000 in compensation for each family, totaling more than $120 million, NBC reported.
According to The Guardian, the case’s lead lawyer, Consuelo Locarti, said: “The Italian government and regional authorities are responsible for violating the rules and neglecting their duties.
The law requires the Italian government to formulate an appropriate national plan and local authorities to implement an appropriate regional plan.” Locati claimed that Italy’s pandemic response plan was seriously outdated and had never been tested for effectiveness.
She also said: “They don’t have guidelines and will not work even if [the old plan] is implemented, because the plan lacks a series of steps prepared to deal with this pandemic.”
Italy was reportedly one of the countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic as early as March. “My thoughts are that if we had locked everything down for two weeks in the first place, we might have already celebrated the victory,” Fontana, president of the Lombardy Region, told the New York Times on March 21.