Tyson Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The employee contracted COVID-19 at a meat-processing plant and died.

Unnamed (2)
PRNewswire

UPDATED: The article has been updated with a statement from Tyson Foods. 

A Tyson Foods employee at the company's meat processing plant in Amarillo, Texas suffered a work-related injury, contracted COVID-19, and died. 

A lawsuit filed in the Amarillo Division of the Northern District of Texas, alleges Pwar Gay worked as a meat cutter at the Tyson meatpacking plant in Amarillo, Texas.

According to the lawsuit, Gay tripped and fell and injured her knee in a job-related incident. Following the injury, Tyson sent Gay to its company clinic, where she received first aid treatment and was sent back to work. Gay was not permitted to go home to rest or seek medical attention due to Tyson's shortage in staff, according to the legal documents. 

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Gay's surviving husband and four children, alleges COVID-19 infected numerous workers at the company's Amarillo facility where Gay worked, and that she was not provided appropriate personal protective equipment to protect her from coronavirus.

After working with her knee injury, Gay fell ill and experienced difficulty breathing, and was admitted to the hospital. She tested positive for COVID-19 and died on May 8, 2020. 

In a statement, Tyson Foods said, "We are saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with Ms. Gay’s family at this difficult time. At Tyson Foods, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we have put in place a host of protective steps at our facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19."

Gay's family alleges at least 4,500 Tyson employees have contracted coronavirus, and at least 18 have died.

The suit further alleges Tyson does not buy workers compensation insurance for its employees, choosing instead to provide workers with a "rigged" injury settlement program.

The family is represented by the VB Attorneys law firm based in Houston, Texas. 

Vuk S. Vujasinovic, a founding partner of VB Attorneys, said, "We look forward to fighting hard for Mrs. Gay's family in this case, and to set a precedent that our community will not tolerate companies that prioritize profits over the safety of hard-working employees. Mrs. Gay put in eight tough years with Tyson, and she and her family deserved much better than this." 

A copy of the file-stamped federal complaint is available here.

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