Eastern Iowa Employer Faces Wrongful Death Charges
The family of a meatpacking plant employee who died from COVID-19 is suing JBS Swift Pork alleging they ignored years of warnings about what a pandemic might do to its employees.
Luciano Sican-Soloman worked for JBS Swift Pork meat processing plant in Ottumwa for 23 years. He died of COVID-19 back in May 2020 at the age of 57.
According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, the lawsuit claims his death was “a ‘predictable and preventable result’ of the company’s decision to ‘ignore worker safety’ and place ‘plant workers in the crosshairs of a global pandemic’”.
The lawsuit also alleges that JBS failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment to its employees, forced them to work closely together, discouraged sick leave, and failed to provide testing and monitoring to those exposed to the virus.
This is a common theme with other wrongful-death claims.
Back in April, we told you about the lawsuit that Jose Andrade-Garcia’s family filed against the JBS meatpacking facility in Marshalltown. In that lawsuit, there is a social media post from the Marshalltown JBS posted in March 2020 that shows the employees all in a cafeteria eating together- at a time when the governor had a public gathering order in place that limited gatherings to no more than 10 people.
The suit points to the photos saying JBS didn’t implement basic safety precautions at the lunch (social distancing, limited seating, protective equipment) and that workers were also subject to similar conditions even while working.
Both of these take place in JBS facilities and both of these lawsuits allege that JBS had a point system in place that would demerit employees from calling in sick and awarded those who didn’t with an extra $600.
Now, why does the lawsuit claim JBS ignored pandemic warnings for years?
According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, in 2008, officials warned meatpackers that if a pandemic were to hit, as many as 40 percent of workers could be sickened or killed.
In 2009, the US Department of Labor told businesses with a high work population density that they should stockpile enough supplies so that employees would have enough PPE- giving each worker access to two masks a day for 120 days.
In 2015, a report came out saying that the food and agriculture industry still had no plan in place for a global pandemic.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, JBS allegedly told workers at the Iowa plants to not wear masks.
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