Tyson asks for new don-doff trial

by Erica Shaffer
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Tyson Foods Inc. is asking the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa for a new trial because there is no way to ensure that only qualified members of a donning-doffing class action lawsuit receive the $5.8 million awarded by a jury.

Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods filed a brief asking the court to grant a new trial on both liability and damages awarded in the donning-doffing case launched by workers at Tyson’s Storm Lake, Iowa, processing plant. The lawsuit, plaintiffs claimed workers were not fully paid for time spent donning and doffing protective gear before 2010. Tyson lost the case in US District Court and a jury awarded the plaintiffs $5.8 million in damages and attorney’s fees. Tyson appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, lost and then petitioned the Supreme Court.

In March, the high court, in a 6-2 ruling, upheld the lower court ruling that certified a donning and doffing lawsuit against Tyson as a class action. The justices remanded the case to the district court to decide whether there are “uninjured class members” who are not entitled to recover damages. Tyson said that uninjured workers had no legal right to any damages. In this case, the class could include 3,000 workers.

Tyson argued that a new trial “is the only way to ensure that uninjured class members are not included in a damages award should a new jury determine Tyson is liable to certain Plaintiffs for uncompensated time over 40 hours.”

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