Nov 20, 2020
A wrongful death lawsuit filed in Iowa alleges employees at a Tyson Foods plant were ordered to report to work even if they had symptoms of COVID-19, and that the order came despite over 1,000 workers having previously tested positive for coronavirus. Moreover, the suit accuses one manager of organizing a “cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.”
At least six of those infected employees have reportedly died from coronavirus complications. One of the workers, Isidro Fernandez, perished in April. His family filed the initial wrongful death suit against Tyson Foods in August, alleging dangerous and unhygienic conditions and a failure to protect workers from the outbreak. That lawsuit was recently amended to include the allegation of supervisors at the Waterloo plant betting money on how many workers would contract COVID-19.
An additional allegation in the amended complaint describes an upper-level plant manager, John Casey, explicitly instructing supervisors to continue showing up to work even if they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Casey allegedly referred to the virus as a “glorified flu,” telling workers “everyone is going to get it.” According to the complaint, Casey stopped a sick supervisor who sought a coronavirus test and ordered them back to work, saying, “You have a job to do.” Additionally, the suit claims managers allowed an employee to continue working after vomiting on the production line, and that the ill employee returned to work the following day.
In a statement sent by a Tyson spokesperson to NBC News affiliate, KWWL, the company says, “We’re saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their families. Our top priority is the health and safety of our workers and we’ve implemented a host of protective measures at Waterloo and our other facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19.” The company did not comment regarding the amended complaint.
Wrongful death is a subset of personal injury law that can cover any number of claims, such as medical malpractice, murder, car accidents, plane crashes, and much more. Essentially, whenever negligence or misconduct results in an untimely death, the decedent’s family may file a civil lawsuit to recover financial compensation.
Wrongful death plaintiffs may be entitled to economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Wrongful death lawsuits are pursued separately from criminal cases, and can be brought regardless of whether or not a criminal lawsuit has been either attempted or succeeded/failed (e.g. the O.J. Simpson criminal murder trial and subsequent civil trial brought by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman).
A plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit, commonly referred to as a “real party in interest,” can include:
“In July, former Glee actress Naya Rivera drowned in Southern California’s Lake Piru. Rivera’s ex-husband and estate filed a wrongful-death lawsuit this week alleging the death occurred because her rented pontoon boat lacked adequate safety equipment, and there were no signs warning of the lake’s dangerous conditions. A jury trial against Ventura County, the Parks Management Company, and United Water Conservation District is currently being pursued.
“In January, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were traveling with seven others to a youth basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. The helicopter they were traveling in crashed shortly after takeoff, and Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death lawsuit is February alleging negligence on the part of the pilot and travel company for flying in such poor weather conditions.
“In 2001, R&B singer and actress Aaliyah was on a flight from Marsh Harbour in The Bahamas to Miami. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all onboard. Aaliyah’s family filed wrongful death claims against the airline and the record company that had arranged the transportation, Virgin Records. The lawsuit alleged that the record company was negligent for hiring an airline with previous safety violations, the pilot was inexperienced (the crash occurred on his first day with the company), the pilot was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine at the time of the crash, and the aircraft was 700 pounds overloaded. A confidential settlement was reached in 2003.
“In 1998, comedian Phil Hartman was shot and killed by his wife, Brynn, who later turned the weapon on herself. Brynn had reportedly been taking the prescription anti-depressant Zoloft when the murder-suicide was committed. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the drug manufacturer, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, alleging the medication caused her violent behavior, and that the dangerous side effects were not disclosed. A confidential settlement was reached shortly after the wrongful death claim had been filed.
For some additional examples of prominent wrongful death lawsuits, including a DLG case study, please see our blog from June.
If someone you love died as a result of negligence or wrongdoing (whether an individual or a company/institution), you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Whether the death was the result of negligence due to COVID-19, medical malpractice in a surgery gone awry, a car accident, or a product defect, the top-rated personal injury attorneys at Dordulian Law Group can help you pursue justice via a wrongful death civil claim. We will fight to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and begin the process. We are here for you 24/7, and are happy to answer any questions you have.
Experiencing the untimely death of a loved one can be a harrowing ordeal. DLG’s experienced and dedicated wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge and skill necessary to successfully pursue a civil claim and recover all possible damages relative to your particular case.
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