Over 500 bereaved relatives of COVID-19 victims in Italy announced Wednesday that they were pursuing civil action against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Governor Attilio Fontana of Lombardy, one of Italy’s worst-affected regions.
The plaintiffs are members of a committee named “Noi Denunceremo” (we will go to court), which has committed itself to representing families of the victims in Lombardy. The lawsuit, which is poised to be presented to a Rome court in the next few days, seeks €100 million in damages to compensate for the mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis in Bergamo, and Italy as a whole.
Italy was the first country in the Western world to be majorly affected by the virus. Since the detection of the first case in the northeastern town of Bergamo on February 20, Italy has suffered almost 70,000 COVID-19-related deaths, amounting to the fifth-highest death toll in the world.
Since the conception of the committee, the plaintiffs have been investigating alleged negligence by both regional and national authorities in responding to Bergamo’s initial outbreak. They claim that despite warnings and sufficient evidence provided by scientists, national authorities failed to upgrade their pandemic plan, and following the example, regional authorities were unable to form their own plan. The committee believes that if the national and regional governments had taken rapid action on the advice of medical professionals, both the loss of lives and the economic damage caused by the pandemic could have largely been avoided.
With over 300 legal complaints from bereaved families, Consuelo Locati, the leading lawyer for Noi Denunceremo, is seeking an average compensation of approximately €259,000 per person from Rome courts.