On Monday, Tyson Foods Inc. filed a reply supporting its supplemental motion to dismiss a complaint against it claiming that it is liable for at least 40 of its employees contracting COVID-19 and one employee’s death in a Northern District of Texas lawsuit. The defendant alleged that the plaintiffs claims are not sufficient.
The supplemental motion to dismiss was filed on June 28. In that motion Tyson and other defendants argued that under the Texas Pandemic Liability Protection Act claims filed against it by 40 employees should be dismissed. Reportedly, the act raised the standard of liability for COVID-19 or other pandemic-related claims and Tyson believed that under the new law the plaintiffs would not be able to support the claims. The defendant alleged that the plaintiffs could not prove that Tyson knowingly did not warn its employees and that the defendants actions caused the plaintiffs to become infected with COVID-19.
Shortly after the motion was filed, the plaintiffs, Tyson workers who contracted COVID-19 at the Tyson facility in Amarillo, Texas, responded arguing that their current petition is adequate. They said “even under this new legislation, Plaintiffs’ most recent petition passes muster. Thus, accepting the pleaded facts as true and resolving all reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs’ favor, Plaintiffs’ claims should not be dismissed.”
Specifically, the response addressed Tyson’s motion by alleging that it is plausible that Tyson knowingly exposed the plaintiffs to COVID-19 because it did not implement safety protocols suggested by the government. Additionally, the plaintiffs asked to be allowed to amend their complaint if the court determines that the motion to dismiss their complaint has merit.
Tyson’s rebuttal filed on Monday cited specific points where the company believes that the plaintiffs’ complaint does not meet the standards, and specific points that Tyson claims the plaintiffs must allege for their claims to continue. The defendant noted that the plaintiffs have conceded that the Texas pandemic liability act does apply to their claims and that they will need to satisfy the elements. The defendant claimed that neither the complaint or the plaintiffs’ response addressed the necessary allegations.
Additionally, the company said that although the plaintiffs asserted that they have “provided notice of their claims” that they have not. The reply claimed that the plaintiffs have not disputed that they need to plead that Tyson knowingly failed to warn the plaintiffs or knowingly failed to implement government standards.
Tyson said that “the Response largely ignores these stringent and detailed requirements. Plaintiffs’ entire argument on this point is to reproduce three statements from the Complaint that contain the words ‘knew’ or ‘subjective awareness’ and simply claim without explanation that they somehow have pleaded the required elements.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Arnold & Itkin, the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, and Lovell Lovell Isern & Farabough. Tyson and the individual managers and supervisors are represented by Underwood Law Firm and Perkins Coie.