Employee claims toxin exposure at Tyson plant caused liver failure

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Jun 17, 2009

MARSHALL � A Louisiana resident claims he was exposed to toxins at a Tyson chicken processing plant that allegedly caused acute liver failure requiring a liver transplant.

The employee believes Tyson failed to provide a place of employment free from "recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees."

Christopher Michael Atkins filed a personal injury lawsuit against Tyson Foods Inc. and DCS Sanitation Management Inc. on June 16 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

DCS Sanitation is a commercial cleaning company that provided cleaning and sanitation services to the Tyson plant in Center, Texas.

While working at the plant, Atkins alleges he was exposed to chemicals during the production and sanitation of the chicken processing lines.

After exposure to the chemicals, Atkins states he became very ill and was diagnosed with acute liver failure, which resulted in a liver transplant.

Atkins is seeking punitive and exemplary damages as a penalty and by way of punishment "to prevent, deter and curtail Defendants and others similar situated, from exercising such a total disregard for the human life, human health, human safety, and general well-being of its employees and servants."

According to court records, Tyson would begin sanitation of the first poultry processing line before the employees on the later processing lines had finished. Atkins states that no protective barriers were used to protect the workers from the chemical overspray.

"Plaintiff and his co-workers regularly complained about adverse reactions they were experiencing, however, Tyson failed to address the complaints in any meaningful way," the complaint.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of negligence for failing to "furnish and maintain a place of employment which is reasonably safe for its employees; to install, maintain, and use methods, processes, devises, and safeguards that protect lives, and the health of its employees; and to talk all actions reasonably necessary to make the employee and the place of employment safe."

In addition, the plaintiff states the defendant is negligent for failing to warn of the dangers of working in close proximity with hazardous chemicals, failing to provide adequate ventilation, failing to provide adequate personnel protective equipment, and for using toxic chemicals in close proximity to employees.

The plaintiff argues that the defendants knew of the dangers and risks but proceeded to ignore the safety and welfare of its employees.

He is seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain and mental anguish, physical impairment, lost wages, loss of wage-earning capacity, physical disfigurement, lost enjoyment of life, and loss of physical capacity.

Atkins is demanding a jury trial.

Longview attorney Laureen F. Bagley of the Sloan, Bagley, Hatcher and Perry Law Firm is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No 2:2009cv00194

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