A lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Texas claims that Tyson Foods Inc. is responsible for the wrongful death of Camha Thi Vu, an employee who died of the COVID-19 virus. The complaint alleged that Tyson is responsible because workers were required to continue coming to work and were not provided appropriate personal protective equipment.
“Plaintiffs would show that nothing that Camha Thi Vu did or failed to do on the occasion in question caused, or contributed to cause, the occurrence. To the contrary, the injuries and death of Ms.Vu were proximately caused by the negligence, both of commission and omission, of Tyson. Tyson’s negligence caused Ms. Vu to contract COVID-19 and die,” the complaint said.
The complaint was filed by Vu Le, Julie Thi Le, children of Camha Thi Vu, and Thuy Van Le, her husband. They are represented by VB Attorneys. The complaint says COVID-19 infected “numerous workers” at the Tyson beef plant in Amarillo, Texas, and at least 4,500 Tyson employees have been infected overall, including 18 who have died.
“Tyson owed Ms. Vu a duty of care commensurate with its relationship to her as her employer. As her employer, Tyson owed Ms. Vu a duty to use ordinary care in providing a safe workspace,” the complaint alleges. It claims Tyson failed to provide a safe space, supervise and properly train employees on safety, and supervise employees in pandemic conditions.
Tyson has received lawsuits in connection with other deaths, including at least one at the same meatpacking facility. The lawsuit claimed Tyson knew of the rampant spread of COVID-19 in its facility but did not reduce or eliminate the risk. Pwar Gay, according to the complaint, was injured at work in a fall in April 2020 and recieved first aid at the Tyson Company Clinic. She was not allowed to go home or seek additional medical attention due to a shortage in staff and fell ill while working with knee injuries. She was later rushed to the hospital with difficulty breathing, a symptom of COVID-19.
Pwar Gay’s four daughters and husband are represented by the same attorneys as Camha Thi Vu’s family. Tyson made a statement related to the lawsuit on behalf of Pwar Gay. “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,” it said.
The complaints claimed that a disproportionate number of Tyson employees have contracted COVID-19 and died compared to the rest of the population. Instead of sick paid leave, Tyson operates an injury settlement program, which the complaint claims favors Tyson over its employees. The complaint also said Tyson did not subscribe to any worker’s compensation insurance which allows a suit for damages under the Texas Labour Code.