Tyson Files Appeal Against District Court Decision To Remand COVID-19 Death Suit To State Court

Tyson Foods is pushing to keep a lawsuit in the Northern District of Iowa that alleged that the company is at fault for the deaths of multiple employees who contracted COVID-19, and includes claims that managers placed bets on how many employees would contract the virus. Last Thursday, Tyson filed a notice of appeal to the Eighth Circuit regarding the District of Iowa’s decision to remand the lawsuit to state court.

The company moved the case from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County shortly after it was filed, and argued against remanding the lawsuit back to the state court. Despite Tyson’s argument that the lawsuit involved federal questions because of an executive order issued by President Trump regarding meatpacking companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district court found that the allegations in the petition predated the executive order and that the petition did not include federal claims. 

Tyson and other named defendants, who are involved with the company, claimed that they were entitled to appeal the court’s decision to remand the case. The notice of appeal stated that based on the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure the remand of the case will now be stayed for 30 days since it was decided, through January 27, 2021. Additionally, the defendants asked for the stay to last longer if the appeal is still pending. 

This is one of multiple lawsuits against Tyson with similar allegations from the families of Tyson employees who died from COVID-19 or employees who contracted the virus and needed medical treatment. This specific lawsuit is filed by the family members of some individuals who died after reportedly contracting COVID-19 while working at the Waterloo, Iowa, plant. Tyson has argued in response to this lawsuit that the court is the wrong forum for the claims and that it is an attempt by the plaintiffs to avoid the Iowa Workers Compensation Act. 

Tyson and the other individual defendants are represented by Finley Law Firm, P.C., and Perkins Coie LLP. The plaintiffs are represented by Frerichs Law Office, P.C., Rausch Law Firm, PLLC, and The Spence Law Firm, LLC