In April 2020, Sedika Buljic, Reberiano Garcia, and Jose Luis Ayala, Jr., contracted COVID-19, during there was an outbreak of at the Tyson Foods meatpacking facility where they worked. All three died in April and May 2020. Their survivors later filed a lawsuit in Iowa state court against the company and management that operated the plant, alleging that they violated Iowa tort law by acting negligently and making fraudulent misrepresentations to the workers in the plant. The defendants removed the action to federal court, claiming that the company was acting “at the direction of a federal officer.” The plaintiffs moved to remand the action to state court, and, in December 2020, the district court granted that motion. The court held that Tyson was not acting as a “federal officer” in operating its meatpacking plants. It also held neither the Federal Meat Inspection Act nor the Defense Production Act preempted plaintiffs’ state-law claims.
Public Citizen represents Ms. Buljic, Mr. Garcia, and Mr. Ayala’s survivors in the defendants’ appeal of the remand order. The defendants moved for a stay of that order pending appeal, and the court of appeals granted that motion without providing plaintiffs an opportunity to respond. We then filed a motion for reconsideration of the stay order, arguing the court acted prematurely under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and opposing the stay motion.