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Tyson Supervisors Took Bets On The Number Of Workers Who Would Get COVID-19, Lawsuit Alleges

Virus Outbreak Meat Plants Lawsuit
Charlie Neibergall
In this May 1, 2020, file photo, vehicles sit outside the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa. Civil rights attorney Tom Frerichs on Thursday June 25, 2020, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estates of three Tyson Foods workers at its pork processing plant in Waterloo who died after contracting coronavirus. The lawsuit alleges the company knowingly put employees at risk during an outbreak and lied to keep them on the job.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods claims that supervisors at the meat packing company in Waterloo took monetary bets on the number of workers who would be sickened by COVID-19. Meanwhile, employees were ordered to attend work as the virus ripped through Iowa’s meat packing industry.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Clark Kauffman of Iowa Capital Dispatch for a look at new developments in the lawsuit, which alleges Tyson Foods is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.” Also in the hour, a look at other top news stories from the week including newly announced leadership in the Iowa Statehouse and a discussion with IPR reporter Kate Payne about the impact of COVID-19 on Iowa’s prison populations.


  • Natalie Krebs, IPR health reporter
  • Kate Payne, IPR Eastern Iowa reporter
  • Clark Kauffman, deputy editor, Iowa Capital Dispatch
  • David Yepsen, host, Iowa Press on Iowa PBS
  • Chris Larimer, professor of political science, University of Northern Iowa
  • Mark Simmet, IPR Studio One host


Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa