Tyson Asks Supreme Court To Block Iowa Worker Death Lawsuits
It’s no secret that the major meat processors have been dealing with a few lawsuits from the families of those workers that have died of COVID-19.
As a response to these deaths, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis did an investigation into the meatpacking industry’s response to the pandemic. During this investigation they found that during the first year of the pandemic, 2020, infections and death among the five largest meatpacking companies-Tyson Foods, Inc. (Tyson), JBS USA Holdings, Inc. (JBS), Smithfield Foods (Smithfield), Cargill, Inc. (Cargill), and National Beef Packing Company LLC (National Beef)- was significantly higher than previously thought.
The report also says that meatpackers worked with the Trump Administration to make sure they could stay open during the pandemic.
Decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Fifth and Eighth Circuits both found that the Trump administration’s efforts to help keep the meatpackers open during the pandemic don’t shield them from negligence lawsuits.
Meatpackers such as Tyson Foods were not happy with the accusations and have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the rulings. They argued that these recent rulings against the company will have “drastic consequences for the next national emergency,” says an Iowa Capital Dispatch article, and that this kind of ruling would push private companies to “not be so eager to willingly aid the federal government in a crisis”.
There have been a few different lawsuits filed against Tyson regarding COVID deaths of workers. These have been filed in state courts in places like Iowa and Texas. However, the company has been working to get these moved to federal court because it was “only doing business under the direction of the federal government” says Iowa Capital Dispatch.
So far three of Tyson's worker lawsuits in Iowa have been moved from Iowa courts to federal.
Tyson Foods was hit with multiple lawsuits last year from families of the workers that have passed away, alleging they caught COVID from the company’s plant. The lawsuit against the Waterloo plant is tied to five wrongful death suits and more than 1,000 meatpacker worker infections.