Federal Judge: Order Keeping Meatpackers Open Can’t Shield Tyson Foods in Lawsuit

A lawsuit claiming Tyson Foods’ negligence contributed to a Waterloo worker’s death is returning to state court after a federal judge rejected the company’s claims it was acting as directed by federal officials.

Tyson, which runs the nation’s largest pork processing plant in Waterloo, was sued in August by the family of Isidro Fernandez, a Tyson worker who died April 26 from complications of COVID-19. More than 1,000 Tyson workers were sickened in a mass outbreak in the spring, and five died, according to Black Hawk County officials.

The company has come under intense criticism for its actions as the pandemic swept through its workforce, with workers and their families claiming the company failed to take necessary steps to protect employees. Tyson fired seven managers in December after allegations emerged in a lawsuit filed by three other families that supervisors had held a betting pool on how many employees would test positive for COVID.

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