Amazon Sued over Worker’s Death
The family of an Amazon driver who died at an Illinois warehouse after a tornado struck is suing the business.
In Edwardsville, Illinois, on December 11, 2021, a roof collapsed at an Amazon.com distribution centre a day after a series of tornadoes struck multiple US states.
Austin McEwen, an Amazon driver, was one of six persons killed when a tornado struck an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 10, 2021, partially collapsing the structure.
The complaint, according to an Amazon spokeswoman, “misunderstands fundamental facts.”
McEwen’s mother, Alice McEwen, sued Amazon, and even the warehouse’s developer Contegra Construction and real estate purchaser Tristar Properties, for wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, Amazon should have been aware of the possibility of a tornado as early as the previous day owing to meteorological warnings, and it kept employees within the building until “moments before” the tornado struck.
According to the lawsuit, the firm ceased to disperse employees, and McEwen was told to take refuge in a bathroom. 911 calls revealed that staff were urged to seek refuge in restrooms, according to Katherine Long of Insider.
According to the lawsuit, McEwen’s mother, who is the administrator of his estate, is asking for $100,000 from Amazon.
“It appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five families who lost loved ones,” Alice McEwen told reporters during a press conference on Monday, as reported by CNN.
Jack Casciato, a partner at the law firm representing McEwen, told CNN: “The question Amazon will have to answer is: ‘Why were these workers present at this facility?'”
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An Amazon spokesperson told Insider the company will defend against the lawsuit.
“We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued, and they worked to move people to safety as quickly as possible. We will defend against this lawsuit, but our focus continues to be on supporting our employees and partners, the families who lost loved ones, the surrounding community, and all those affected by the tornadoes,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement sent to Insider.
She added that the lawsuit “misunderstands key facts, such as the difference between various types of severe weather and tornado alerts, as well as the condition and safety of the building.”
“The truth is that this was a new building less than four years old, built in compliance with all applicable building codes, and the local teams were following the weather conditions closely. Severe weather watches are common in this part of the country and, while precautions are taken, are not cause for most businesses to close down,” said Nantel.
The collapse of the Edwardsville warehouse is currently the subject of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation. OSHA has six months to complete the investigation.
McEwen’s mother is also seeking $50,000 each from Contegra and Tristar
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