DES MOINES, IOWA – In a recently filed legal brief, lawyers from Tyson Foods Inc. requested that two COVID-19-related lawsuits involving Iowa processing plant workers to be heard in federal court.

According to Law360 documents, the lawsuits started in state court. Although the cases eventually moved to the Northern District of Iowa, a federal judge recently sent back one case to state court in January.

Like previous appeals, Tyson asked for the lawsuit to be heard in federal court, claiming the company kept its facilities operating following President Donald Trump’s executive order in April 2020.

“Tyson could have paused its operations while it retrofitted its facility in the way plaintiffs imagine, but doing so would have been contradictory to the federal direction to keep plants operational to promote the national food supply,” Tyson lawyers wrote in a recent brief.

One of the lawsuits was filed in August 2020 by the family of Isidro Fernandez who died of COVID-19 complications in April. The other lawsuit was filed by the estates of three former Tyson workers who are deceased.

Both lawsuits stem from COVID-19 outbreaks at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant where the Black Hawk County Health Department previously reported that more than 1,000 employees at the plant contracted the virus and five people died.