A non-profit organization called “Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition, Inc. last week filed a defamation suit against former President Donald Trump contending that the former President’s continued use of terms such as the “China Virus” have “exposed all members of Plaintiff’s community, i.e., Chinese/Asian Americans, to public discrimination, hate contempt, ridicule, verbal abuse and physical violence as reported in many incidents across the country.”

All of this may or may not be true, but the allegation quoted above may prove to be the undoing of the lawsuit.  One requirement of a libel suit is that the defamatory statement be “of and concerning” the plaintiff.  So, for example, if I say something derogatory about John Smith, he can sue me, but his family can’t.  And following this logic, when the statement concerns a sufficiently large group, individual group members can’t assert a defamation claim.  The quoted allegation makes it clear that the case is based on a statement about a group – not about any individual.

For damages, the lawsuit demands “$1.00 as an apology to every Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) living in the United States, total $22.9 million based on the latest estimate by the U.S. Census on Apr. 19, 2021.”  So, it would appear we are talking about a sufficiently large group.

The complaint certainly raises serious concerns about an increase in Asian discrimination, and whether words from the White House contributed.  But as a viable lawsuit, it’s hard to see it surviving a motion to dismiss.