Tyson Foods is facing a growing number of wrongful death lawsuits after deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 (coronavirus) hit meatpacking plants. An outbreak in Waterloo infected at least 1,000 workers, and at least 6 people died.
UPDATE: Tyson Fires 7 Managers for Betting on COVID-Positive Workers
Tyson Foods fired 7 top managers at its largest pork plant in Waterloo after they confirmed reports of the managers placing bets on how many workers would test positive for COVID. A former supervisor described the betting ring during a mass-testing program, saying he and 9 others all put $10 into the pool. The winner who guessed the correct percentage of COVID+ workers got a $100 payout.
Lawsuit Claims Tyson Officials Lied to Interpreters About COVID-19 Dangers
The original lawsuit was filed in June on behalf of 3 employees at Tyson’s Waterloos plant who died after being infected with COVID-19. In an amended lawsuit against Tyson filed on November 24, lawyers allege that back in April, Tyson officials lied to Spanish-speaking interpreters about the scope of the outbreak.
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Tyson’s plant’s manager and HR director told interpreters to inform non-English-speaking employees that there were no cases of COVID, and that the plant was “cleared” by the county health department. In reality, there were actually at least 3 active COVID cases, and health officials were asking Tyson to shut down the plant.
What is the Problem?
More than 100 meat-processing plants operated by Tyson, Smithfield, and other companies have had outbreaks of COVID-19. As of October 2020, more than 200 meatpacking workers have died of coronavirus and at least 44,000 meat workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Tyson Hit With Another Coronavirus Death Lawsuit
In October 2020, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Tyson Foods by the children of a man who died of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pedro C., a man who worked at the Tyson Foods pork plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa. He began to feel symptoms of COVID-19 on April 2. Tragically, he died less than two weeks later, on April 14, at the age of 51.
Tyson shut down the facility on April 6 due to a massive outbreak of coronavirus, which eventually infected at least 522 employees, according to health officials in Iowa.
According to the lawsuit, he had to work “elbow-to-elbow” with other employees in the facility, but his employers did not provide face masks or gloves, or adequate warnings about the risk of COVID-19.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on September 23, 2020, in the Iowa District Court (Johnson County).
Families of 3 Workers File COVID-19 Death Lawsuits Against Tyson
In June 2020, Tyson Foods was hit with wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of 3 workers who died after being infected with coronavirus.
The lawsuits claim that Tyson knew by March or early April that the coronavirus was spreading among employees at the Waterloo pork processing plant in Iowa. The outbreak eventually infected at least 1,000 of the facility’s 2,800 workers. It also spread to the community.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sedika B., age 58, who died on April 18; Reberiano G., age 60, who died on April 23; and Jose A., Jr., age 44, who died on May 25.
Tyson Hit With COVID-19 Death Lawsuit in Texas
In May 2020, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Tyson Foods by the family of a woman who died of coronavirus. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pwar G., a woman who worked as a meat-cutter at the Tyson Foods plant in Amarillo, Texas.
According to the lawsuit, she also suffered a knee injury at work. Even so, she kept working until her knee pain, swelling, and problems breathing were severe enough that she went to a hospital.
Despite weeks of hospitalization, the combination of COVID-19 and a knee injury resulted in her death, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on May 15, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Amarillo Division) — Case No. 2:20-cv-00125-Z.