- More than 1,000 workers The number of workers at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, meatpacking facility who contracted COVID-19 in spring 2020
- 6 people The number of workers who died after contracting COVID-19 during the April 2020 outbreak at the facility
- 2,500 to 3,000 cases The estimated total number of cases of COVID-19 in Black Hawk County that public health officials have traced to the April 2020 outbreak at the Tyson Waterloo facility
“We are glad that the Supreme Court has finally disposed of Tyson’s arguments that federal officials somehow compelled it to continue operating its Waterloo plant without taking appropriate precautions against COVID-19 and lying to workers about the safety of the plant. It is unfortunate that Tyson has chosen to devote such great resources to this meritless theory. It dishonors the memory of its workers – workers whose lives were literally the subject of bets by Tyson supervisors.”Public Citizen Litigation Group attorney Adam Pulver
Public Citizen Litigation Group, working with The Spence Law Firm, LLC, and Frerichs Law Office, represented the families of four workers who died after being exposed to Covid-19 at a Tyson Foods meatpacking plant.
In April 2020, there was a COVID-19 outbreak at a Tysons Food meatpacking facility where Sedika Buljic, Reberiano Garcia, Jose Luis Ayala, Jr., and Isidro Fernandez worked. All four contracted the illness and died soon after.
Survivors of the four workers filed lawsuits against the company, alleging negligence and fraudulent misrepresentation under Iowa state tort law. Believing that the federal court would be receptive to its position, Tyson removed the cases from state to federal court on the theory that Tyson Foods was “acting under” federal officer directions by operating the meatpacking facility. The district court rejected Tyson’s theory and sent the cases back to state court. Tyson appealed.
Public Citizen represented the plaintiffs on appeal. Agreeing with the plaintiffs’ arguments, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held in December 2021 that the district court had properly remanded the case. Tyson then petitioned the Supreme Court for review; Public Citizen opposed the petition, and the Court denied it. The case then returned to Iowa state court.