COVID-19 Death Triggers Lawsuit In Philly
Tyson was among the many companies to raise the alarm during the early stages of the pandemic that “the supply chain was breaking”. This is largely because outbreaks at Tyson facilities were common in the early days of the pandemic, and Tyson contributed several deaths to the growing death toll. Now, they are facing another lawsuit claiming that an employee at one of their plants fell ill with the virus and died because of their negligence.
The lawsuit will be difficult to win. There are two barriers the plaintiff faces in a lawsuit like this. COVID-19 liability restrictions place limits on the types of lawsuits that plaintiffs can file against companies and workers’ compensation legislation restrict employee lawsuits against their employers. Nonetheless, Tyson is among the companies that don’t purchase workers’ compensation insurance unless they are required to by state law. Instead, they handle the claims internally via an internal arbitration system. This allows employees to file lawsuits directly against Tyson if they are exposed to hazards in the workplace. Further, Pennsylvania did have a COVID immunity bill, but it was vetoed by the governor.
The biggest issue facing the plaintiff in this lawsuit is the difficulty in establishing a link between his work-related activities and his COVID infection. Theoretically, he could have acquired the infection from anywhere. Yet, negligence cases tend to work differently than the types of lawsuits you’re used to hearing about.
In many cases, you may not need to prove a direct link between the plaintiff’s injury and the negligence, you need only establish that the negligence was the status quo and that the facility would inevitably become a vector for the disease. With the number of claims that Tyson and similar meat-packing companies are facing, this is no stretch of the imagination.
Because the jury is asked to decide which case is the most likely, and not whether or not the plaintiff proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, one could safely assume that a company that took no measures to protect their employees from COVID caused the infection that the plaintiff said they caused. However, this falls short of “proof” and juries can be fickle.
Workers’ compensation is the next barrier that the plaintiffs will face. To file a negligence lawsuit against Tyson, the plaintiffs have alleged “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct”. Since workers’ compensation only applies to accidents, the plaintiffs are arguing that Tyson’s conduct was not an accident, but rather they intentionally ignored the growing threat. But Tyson will be able to argue that the U.S. government identified their services as “essential” which may give them broader leeway to shirk their responsibilities to their employees.
Talk to a Decatur, GA Workers’ Compensation Attorney
O’Connell Law Firm represents the interests of injured workers filing workers’ compensation claims in Decatur, GA. Call our Decatur workers’ compensation attorneys today to discuss your situation, and we can begin litigating your claim and recovering your compensation.