Bill Would Shield Meat Plants from COVID Lawsuits

May 19, 2020
The legislation, dubbed “Protecting Protein Production and Consumer Access Act of 2020,” was introduced Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) on May 15.

A U.S. representative whose district includes two meatpacking plants has introduced a bill to shield such plants from legal liability in cases of COVID-19 infection.

The legislation, dubbed “Protecting Protein Production and Consumer Access Act of 2020,” was introduced May 15 by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). It would immunize meat processing companies from lawsuits related to coronavirus infection unless the plaintiff can prove criminal misconduct or gross negligence by the company.

Meat and poultry plants have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with an estimated 14,000 workers infected and 60 dead. Hartzler’s district includes a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Sedalia, Mo., and a Cargill turkey meat plant in California, Mo.

“If our producers and processors are going to successfully weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic, then meat processing facilities must have the ability to safely fulfill the federal government’s reopening mandate without fear of frivolous litigation that will cripple their operations,” Hartzler said in a statement.

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