DES MOINES, IOWA – A federal judge recently rejected Tyson Foods Inc.’s argument that it was not liable in the death of an employee at its Tyson Fresh Meats pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the ruling, Tyson has appealed the judge’s decision.

Tyson spokesperson Gary Mickelson said the company declined to comment on the case.

The original lawsuit was filed in August by the family of Isidro Fernandez who died of COVID-19 complications in April.

Tyson asked for the lawsuit to be heard in federal court since the company kept its facilities open following President Donald Trump’s executive order in April.

However, US District Judge Linda Reade sent the case back to state court since President Trump’s executive order was not signed until April 28, which was two days after Fernandez died of COVID-19.

Reade wrote that “no federal officer directed Tyson to keep its facility open in a negligent manner (failing to provide employees with personal protective equipment, failing to implement adequate social distancing measures, failing to implement adequate safety measures related to the coronavirus) or make fraudulent misrepresentations to employees at the Waterloo facility regarding the risks or severity of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak at the Waterloo facility.”

The Black Hawk County Health Department previously reported that more than 1,000 Tyson employees at the plant contracted the virus.

Recently, Tyson announced that seven plant management employees were fired from the Waterloo facility after accusations of betting on how many employees would test positive for the coronavirus.