Labor & Employment Law Daily Wrap Up, TOP STORY—JBS named in wrongful death suit alleging COVID-19 infection under unsafe work conditions

Cheetah TM 
@Wolters Kluwer 
Labor & Employment Law Daily wrap up, TOP STORY—JBS named 
in wrongful death suit alleging COVID-19 infection under unsafe work 
conditions, (May 7, 2020) 
Labor & Employment Law Daily Wrap Up 
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By Pamela Wolf J.D. 
Instead of following CDC and OSHA guidelines, JBS purportedly ramped up production without implementing 
safety measures in order to capitalize on panic-motivated increased demand for ground meat, according to the 
On May 7, the estate of an employee who died on April 3 of alleged respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 filed 
a wrongful death lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court against giant beef processing company JBS and its affiliates 
(JBS), contending that the employee's death resulted from his contracting the coronavirus while working at a 
JBS plant under unsafe conditions without proper personal protective equipment (PPE). The employee, who 
worked at the JBS slaughterhouse in Souderton, Pennsylvania, was also a union chief steward. 
The five-count complaint raises claims of wrongful death, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation, among 
others. It is said to be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, although similar suits have been filed in other states. 
Unsafe conditions. The estate contends that despite the known risks about COVID-19, prior to shutting down 
the plant on March 30, 2020, JBS: 
Failed to provide sufficient PPE; 
Forced workers to work in close proximity; 
Forced workers to use cramped and crowded work areas, break areas, restrooms, and hallways; 
Discouraged workers from taking sick leave in a manner that had sick workers in fear of losing their jobs; 
Failed to properly provide testing and monitoring for individuals who have may been exposed to 
Ramping up production. Instead of taking safety measures at the facility where the employee worked, JBS 
increased production during March 2020, adding a "Saturday Kill" "to capitalize on increased demand caused 
by public panic purchases of ground meat," according to the complaint. During this critical timeframe in March 
2020, the employee allegedly contracted COVID-19 while working at JBS Souderton because the company 
"inexplicably failed to take proper safety precautions to protect workers." 
Safety guidance ignored. The estate alleges that up to and including March 27, 2020, "workers at JBS 
Souderton were still not required to wear masks and/or other PPE, despite CDC and OSHA guidance to 
the contrary." Workers at the JBS plant were purportedly still required to work within six feet of one another, 
despite CDC and OSHA guidance otherwise. Nor were workers required to report to their superiors if they were 
experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, according to the complaint. 
Deadly coronavirus contracted at work? When the employee last arrived for work at the JBS plant on March 
27, 2020, "a number of his coworkers had already become infected," the estate contends. On that day he 
allegedly left work after experiencing cough-like symptoms. "Over the next week, the employee's condition 
continued to worsen and breathing became nearly impossible," the complaint states. On April 3, the employee's 
son purportedly called EM Ts to assist the employee, who was unable to breathe, but he died in his son's arms 
before the ambulance arrived. 
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Labor & Employment Law Daily Wrap Up, TOP STORY—JBS named in 
wrongful death suit alleging... 
@Wolters Kluwer 
The complaint states that an autopsy report confirmed that the employee died from respiratory complications 
related to COVID-19. 
Predictable, preventable outcome. According to the complaint, the employee's death "was the predictable 
and preventable result of the JBS Defendants' failures to consider the safety of their workers." Further, they 
"knew, or in the exercise of a reasonable degree of care, should have known that if OSHA and CDC guidance 
were not followed, workers would become infected with and could succumb to COVID-19." But instead, the JBS 
purportedly "placed profits over safety." 
The complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages, interest, and "allowable costs of suit." 
Right before the plant slowed production for cleaning on March 30th, "it demonstrated that it was out to make a 
killing in the beef market with meat for consumers becoming scarce," according to Steven G. Wigrizer, one of 
the attorneys representing the estate. "While it could have devoted weekends to disinfecting the plant (located 
at 249 Allenton Rd., Souderton) following federal guidelines, JBS instead added what it called a 'Saturday Kill' to 
increase production and its bottom line." 
Said Jason Weiss, another attorney representing the estate: "The conditions that JBS workers were exposed to 
are repulsive. There is no question that the unsafe working environment should have been modified to adhere to 
CDC recommendations. Instead, workers were forced to choose between two horrific alternatives: work literally 
alongside those likely infected or be unable to support their families." 
The lawsuit, Estate of Enock Benjamin v. JBS S.A., was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; the 
case is No. 200500370. 
Attorneys: Robert J. Mongeluzzi (Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C.) for the Estate of Enock Benjamin. 
Companies: JBS S.A; JBS USA Food Company; JBS USA Holdings, Inc.; JBS Souderton, Inc.; Pilgrim's Pride 
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