Family Files Wrongful Death Against Tyson Foods
In the other article on COVID-19 deaths in the workplace, we discussed generally the issues surrounding workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits. In this article, we’ll discuss the lawsuit itself.
The family of Pwar Gay has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tyson Foods, Inc. after Gay came down with the virus in the workplace and later died. According to the family, Gay worked as a meat cutter at Tyson’s meatpacking plant in Amarillo. The lawsuit says that Gay tripped and fell, injuring her knee in a work-related accident. Tyson sent Gay to their health clinic where she was administered first aid and then sent back to work. The family alleges that Gay was not allowed to go home, rest, or seek medical attention after the injury due to the company’s staffing shortage.
The staffing shortage was caused by, you guessed it, COVID-19. Yet none of the employees were given personal protective equipment to prevent its spread. Gay worked through the knee injury, but later showed symptoms of the virus. She was admitted to the hospital where she died.
Tyson Employee Deaths
At present, more than 4,500 Tyson employees have contracted the virus. Of those, 18 have died. In other words, a disproportionate number of Tyson employees have fallen ill and died from the virus.
In Texas, employers are not required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for employers. Tyson does not offer workers’ compensation. For that reason, they can be sued by employees if the employee can prove that the employer was negligent and that negligence resulted in their injury.
There are two sides to every story. Tyson and other meatpacking companies were never prepared to deal with an infectious disease. Employees work in close quarters and with no natural defenses to the virus, they were sitting ducks.
On the other hand, the CDC had begun releasing business plans for essential workers during the pandemic. These recommendations included the use of face masks to prevent coughs or sneezes from infecting others, and sanitary measures that would prevent the virus from spreading on surfaces.
Tyson insists that the put in place a number of protective measures in place to prevent their employees from falling ill with the virus. As yet, it’s unknown what protective measures there were.
However, if Republicans have their way in Congress, they will provide immunity from personal injury lawsuits to any employer whose employees died during the pandemic. This would include wrongful death lawsuits. To pass such legislation without providing the families of lost essential workers some other means of supporting their families would be cruel.
One possibility is that federal and state governments set up a compensation fund to pay death benefits to the families of essential workers who lost loved ones due to COVID-19. This would take pressure off both the companies to pay out significant claims and the families that have lost a stream of income.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can help you file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can help.