- July 20, 2020
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
In a Tyson chicken plant near the Alabama-Georgia border, a man named Carlos Lynn was killed on March 3rd, 2020. He was 39 years old and employed by a third-party cleaning company under contract with Tyson. While cleaning a piece of plant machinery, Lynn’s head became caught in a “pinch point” — a place where a moving part passes close to a stationary object or other moving part. His cause of death was decapitation.
When contacted for comment by the media, Tyson said that the incident was under investigation, emphasized the fact that Lynn was employed by a contractor, and expressed gratitude for “the swift response and assistance of local emergency personnel.” Commendable as a swift emergency response may be, it couldn’t possibly have offered much comfort to a worker who had already been beheaded on the scene, or to his family.
Tyson Plant Workers Die on an All-Too-Regular Basis
Equally uncomforting, but more relevant, is the fact that Carlos Lynn is not alone in his fate. The same month, in a Tyson beef plant in Kansas, another worker was killed when a harness pulled him up into a moving belt. In August of last year, another Tyson worker in Texas was crushed to death between several fully-loaded pallets. In September, in the very same Alabama plant where Lynn was decapitated, another worker even survived being shot in the neck by an unknown assailant.
In short, no Tyson plant injury is an isolated freak tragedy. Deaths at Tyson appear to be part of an ongoing pattern of unsafe workspaces and corporate indifference to human life.
Lynn’s Contractor Status Does Not Automatically Absolve Tyson
By taking the time in their otherwise sparse response to point out that Lynn worked for a contractor, rather than directly for Tyson, this spokesperson seems to be implying that Lynn’s safety was not Tyson’s responsibility.
This is common practice among companies that use subcontractors to distance themselves from parts of their workforce, but it’s not an airtight legal defense. Small contracting companies receive less oversight than poultry plants, which is why poultry brands prefer to delegate their most difficult and dangerous labor to them. However, large poultry brands often exert just as much control over their contractors as they do over their own employees. It’s only reasonable that they be held to the same level of responsibility for how they use that power.
Additionally, all companies are responsible for making their premises safe for anyone who’s authorized to be there. That includes contractors, regardless of how closely the company monitors and manages those contractors’ actions.
Why Was It Possible for This to Happen During Routine Cleaning?
Current reports don’t explain how the machine in question could have removed Lynn’s head during a cleaning cycle. There’s no mention of whether it started up unexpectedly, or whether the moving parts were able to cause this kind of damage without being powered on. In either case, this accident indicates something seriously wrong with either the original design of the machine, or the way it has been used or modified at the Tyson location. Depending on exactly how the accident occurred, either Tyson, the equipment provider, the equipment installer, or all three may be liable for Lynn’s wrongful death.
Our Tyson Injury Attorneys are Here to Help
The duty to provide a safe property and non-defective machinery is spelled out in civil law. The Stoddard Firm isn’t afraid to go trial to help the victims of the poultry industry gain the resources they need to rebuild their lives. We have experience explaining the legal responsibilities of plant owners and equipment manufacturers. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one to a poultry plant accident, reach out at 678-RESULT or through our online chat function for a free consultation.