Beasley Allen attorney Kendall C. Dunson filed a lawsuit against Koch Foods of Alabama on behalf of the family of a line worker who was severely injured and ultimately died after an accident at the chicken processing plant.
“When Alabama workers are injured on the job, companies are bound by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act to provide death benefits to their families,” Dunson said. “When employers fail to protect a worker, an experienced attorney can help the worker’s family get the benefits to which they are entitled.”
The accident occurred on March 9, 2021, when Robert M. Lewis’ clothing became trapped in the rotating shaft of a piece of line equipment he was cleaning at the processing plant. Unable to free himself from the hazard, Lewis was seriously injured and subsequently died from his injuries.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act of Alabama, Lewis’ wife, Sharon Frazier, is entitled to death benefits. When controversy arose regarding those benefits, and no settlement was reached between Koch Foods and the family, Mr. Lewis’ family hired Dunson to investigate.
The Lewis family’s lawsuit claims that Koch Foods and others’ negligence at the plant contributed to Lewis’ death. The lawsuit also claims the machinery that Lewis was cleaning was unreasonably dangerous and defective and created an unreasonable risk of severe injury or death to its intended users. The suit also includes claims against the original manufacturer and distributor of the equipment responsible for Mr. Lewis’ death.
This isn’t the first time an employee at the Koch Foods plant has been seriously injured on the job. In April 2014, Leon Battle was performing a simple adjustment to a hydraulic hose on a chicken cage moving machine when a mishap with the safety feature resulted in the amputation of four of the Battle’s fingers. While completing the process for obtaining workers’ compensation, Battle was allowed to return to work under the condition that he would not hire a lawyer. Given the extent of his injuries, Battle decided to hire Beasley Allen to investigate his claim. When Koch Foods discovered Battle had contacted an attorney, the company immediately terminated Battle, a blatant act of retaliation against the worker for seeking the workers’ compensation benefits which were rightfully his. In the end, Beasley Allen secured a more than $1.8 million verdict for its client.
“The verdict was significant because it held an employer responsible for retaliating against a worker injured on the job and who was pursuing his constitutional right to hire legal counsel to assist him in pursuing claims against culpable defendants,” Dunson said. “This verdict proves that every worker deserves fair compensation when a company’s negligence results in serious injuries or death.”
The current case, Lewis v. Koch Foods of Alabama, LLC, is filed in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama, case number 03-CV-2021-901184.00.