Tyson seeks to dismiss COVID suits


Jeff Reinitz, Longview News-Journal (TX)

Sep 14, 2022 


WATERLOO — Attorneys for Tyson and a group of the plant’s executives and supervisors are asking for the court to throw out wrongful death lawsuits brought by relatives of four workers who died of COVID-19.


During a Monday hearing, the meatpacking plant’s lawyers argued that Iowa law dictates the matter should be handled through the state’s worker’s compensation system and not as a civil suit in district court.


Attorneys for the estates of Isidro Fernandez, Sedika Buljic, Reberiano Leno Garcia and Jose Luis Ayala Jr. are fighting to keep the cases in court, where there is a greater opportunity for recovery and punitive damages.


The plaintiffs allege Tyson officials misled employees at Tyson Fresh Meats in the spring of 2020 about the dangers of the coronavirus and the presence to the virus at hog-processing facility.


Tyson attorneys told the court the plaintiffs’ suit was an attempted “end run” around Iowa’s workers compensation act. The allegations amount to workplace injury claims, which should be addressed by the Iowa Division of Workers Compensation, they argued. The court system doesn’t have jurisdiction over the matter, Tyson’s attorney argued.


A similar argument prevailed in a Philadelphia court where Tyson Foods was facing a COVID-19 lawsuit brought by the widow of a deceased employee...