AUSTIN, TEXAS — A case involving seven Tyson Foods employees who allegedly contracted COVID-19 while working at the company’s Amarillo, Texas, plant was dismissed a second time by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The workers’ original complaint was filed three weeks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Pandemic Liability Protection Act (PLPA) into law on June 14, 2021.

The employees allege:

  • Tyson required its employees to work in-person after Governor Abbott issued a stay-at-home order on April 2, 2020.
  • Tyson failed to implement COVID-19 guidelines set by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Tyson failed to provide personal protective equipment, implement social distancing and provide adequate medical treatment for plant workers.
  • Tyson required individuals infected with the coronavirus to continue working.

The court affirmed the decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas to dismiss the complaint. The appeals court said the complaint lacked sufficient evidence for its claims under the PLPA.

“… to plausibly allege that Tyson had an opportunity to warn, remediate, or implement government-promulgated standards ‘before’ or ‘on the date’ of exposure, we conclude that the Plaintiffs’ pleading must provide the date of contact with the virus,” the court wrote.

The employees indicated that they contracted the virus sometime in the spring, but the court said without specific dates, it could not move forward with the case.

“Plaintiffs do allege that Tyson required COVID-positive individuals to continue working such that they could infect others at the plant,” the court added. “But this troubling allegation does nothing to connect Tyson’s conduct to Plaintiffs’ contraction of the virus, much less suggest facts that could be supported by ‘reliable scientific evidence,’ establishing causation.”

Tyson faces a separate lawsuit filed by 34 employees and their family members alleging the company neglected workers’ health and safety during the pandemic.