Tyson Says the Court is the “Wrong Forum” for COVID-19 Death and Workplace Injury Claims

Tyson Foods told the Northern District of Iowa on Tuesday that it should not allow the plaintiffs to amend their complaint another time in a lawsuit alleging workplace injuries regarding the deaths of its employees from the COVID-19 virus because of Tyson’s policies. 

The company’s response to the plaintiffs’ second motion to amend the complaint said the “Plaintiffs have repeatedly sought leave to amend their pleadings—dismissing existing defendants, adding new defendants, and now seeking to re-add a previously-dismissed defendant, along with other changes— in an apparent attempt to avoid the application of the IWCA (Iowa Workers Compensation Act) to their claims.” 

Tyson began by saying the deaths of its employees, Sedika Buljic, Reberiano Leno Garcia, and Jose Luis Ayala, were tragedies along with others who have died of COVID-19 complications, however, the company said the court was the “wrong forum” for the claims from the individuals’ relatives and that workplace injury claims should be addressed with the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation.  

The defendants said that they “vigorously oppose” the claims in the second amended complaint, as they have the allegations in other complaints. However, they emphasized their opinion that “the amendment process at some point must cease so that the Court can address the core question of the proper forum for Plaintiffs’ workplace injury claims.” Tyson also announced its intent to challenge the complaint with a motion to dismiss. Tyson has already tried to dismiss this lawsuit, along with others with similar allegations at other Tyson plants. 

One lawsuit at another Iowa plant received some attention after the plaintiffs added allegations that managers placed monetary bets on how many employees would contract COVID-19, the managers were later suspended by the company. 

Tyson and the other individual defendants are represented by Finley Law Firm, P.C., and Perkins Coie LLP. The plaintiffs are represented by Frerichs Law Office, P.C., Rausch Law Firm, PLLC, and The Spence Law Firm, LLC