In this file:
· Smithfield, government, settle over coronavirus subpoena dispute
· Smithfield and OSHA Settle Suit Over Health Inspection Records
Smithfield, government, settle over coronavirus subpoena dispute
Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader (SD)
Jul 31, 2020
Smithfield Foods and the federal government have settled their dispute over information the government wanted in connection with its investigation into the meatpacker’s coronavirus outbreak in Sioux Falls.
That outbreak is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for possible violations of workplace safety rules. The outbreak sickened 851 employees and 245 of their close contacts.
As part of that investigation, OSHA had subpoenaed the South Dakota Department of Health to turn over test results, correspondence and other materials related to the outbreak. The department assisted Smithfield in adding safety measures to the plant after it closed temporarily in April.
But Smithfield earlier this month asked a federal judge to quash the subpoena, arguing it had a confidentiality agreement with the Department of Health to share internal company information. The meatpacker argued that failure to protect the information would make it less likely for meat processors to work with health officials.
But Smithfield and the federal government filed a joint motion to dismiss its request to quash…
Smithfield and OSHA Settle Suit Over Health Inspection Records
OSHA sought information from Health Department
Department `fully complied,’ U.S. attorney says
Fatima Hussein, Bloomberg Law
July 30, 2020
Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. and OSHA settled a lawsuit filed by the company to prevent the federal safety agency from getting documents related to employee reports of illness, Covid-19 test results, and interviews with its South Dakota plant workers.
Smithfield asked a South Dakota federal court on July 1 to keep the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from certain inspection documents held by the state’s Department of Health, arguing its employees “have legitimate privacy interests in this information,” according to its motion to quash the OSHA subpoena.
OSHA had served its subpoena on the health department June 23, seeking records related to a Covid-19 outbreak at Smithfield’s Sioux Falls facility, which closed for more than three weeks after hundreds of workers there tested positive for the coronavirus.
South Dakota U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons said in an email that the health department had “fully complied with the subpoena issued to it by OSHA and the United States.”
With their tightly packed production lines, U.S. meatpacking plants have become highly localized coronavirus hotspots. Smithfield in May won dismissal of a Missouri federal court lawsuit over worker safety, with a judge concluding that OSHA has primary jurisdiction over the regulatory environment in which such facilities operate during the pandemic.
The agency wanted to see statistical data on potential Covid-19 clusters, recommendations issued to Smithfield by the South Dakota health department, interviews with workers, and other items. A joint motion to dismiss the case was filed July 29. U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier dismissed the matter without prejudice to its being reopened.
Representatives from Smithfield...
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