Like most Americans, I am economically harmed by the current restrictions in place to cope with the SARS-nCov-2 pandemic. However, the variety of outcomes in different countries around the world show that the outbreak conditions in the United States are, to a large extent, avoidable. And thus, it is quite apparent to me that the severity of the restrictions is a direct consequence of a subset of the population which refuses to participate in basic public health measures, such as wearing of masks, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings, etc.

Is there a legal basis for filing a lawsuit against such individuals, preferably as a defendant class-action suit? In particular, I think there is more than enough scientific data to demonstrate that anti-mask protesters et al are dramatically increasing the severity of the epidemic in way which can be demonstrated to most legal standards of proof. Therefore, I would like to collect damages from said individuals. I assume this would be some kind of tort claim, or perhaps criminal negligence, but am not aware of where to start, or whether this is feasible.

In the limit, I would very much appreciate for the US gov't to take this case upon itself, sue all relevant parties (i.e., people who have publicly refused to wear masks when mandated, attended large parties in contravention of emergency orders, etc.) and use recovered damages to pay for the bailouts currently making their way through Congress. I estimate that if 30% of the population falls within this class, then damages in the range of $30-40,000 each is sufficient to pay for the already-passed round of bailouts (CARES Act, etc.). Probably another $30,000 is sufficient to pay for the next round. As a taxpayer, I find it highly unjust that I am expected to help shoulder this burden when the deliberate actions of other citizens produces the majority of the epidemic growth. If the gov't is not willing to file such a suit, I am curious whether it is feasible to do so myself.

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    One issue I'd see is that in order to actually collect on your judgment, you'd have to show that the person you're trying to collect from is in fact a member of the class. In the case you linked, the class is something like "manufacturers and retailers of guns", and if a company makes or sells guns, that fact is usually undisputed. But in the case at hand, if your class is something like "people who went to parties", it's much easier for a prospective defendant to dispute that they went to a party, and much harder for you to prove that they did. – Nate Eldredge Jul 28 at 11:41
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    There's also an economic problem: only about half the US population actually has a net worth above $30,000 if home equity is excluded (as it typically is in bankruptcy cases). And even for those who do, it's unlikely they'd pay up willingly. Collecting on a judgment against a single uncooperative individual is very difficult and expensive, and you propose to multiply that by 100 million. – Nate Eldredge Jul 28 at 11:44
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    "As a taxpayer, I find it highly unjust that I am expected to help shoulder this burden when the deliberate actions of other citizens" Do you also complain about your taxes going to fix roads you never drive on? Public services you never use? Public schools you don't attend? – Ron Beyer Jul 28 at 13:16
  • @NateEldredge I suspect that declaring such a lawsuit would invite a significant amount of cooperation from citizens wanting to join the plaintiff class and having documentary evidence to share of members of the defendant class. Also, whether all defendants can pay the judgment is less important than establishing a precedent whereby their actions during an emergency are held accountable under the law, thereby influencing current and future behavior. – Lawnmower Man Jul 28 at 16:58
  • @RonBeyer If I saw citizens throwing rocks on highways from bridges to damage them, or driving cars into schools because they thought schools were transmitting 5G mind control waves, then yes, I would be very upset to see my tax dollars go to repair such public goods without holding the perpetrators accountable. I imagine I am not alone in this view. – Lawnmower Man Jul 28 at 17:00

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