A tornado victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against online retailer Amazon in Madison County on Monday.
According to the reports, the family of an employee of Amazon has filed a lawsuit for a wrongful death.
The details of the lawsuit states that the family of late Austin McEwen filed a lawsuit against Amazon claiming that the company failed to warn its employees about the dangers that the unpredictable weather conditions will bring along as well as providing shelter to the employees; before the tornado hit the Edwardsville facility resulting in the death of 6 people including 26-year-old Austin McEwen.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sent out a directive to open up an independent investigation. It is also believed that this will be the first legal action in response to the deaths occurred by the tornado.
Randy and Alice McEwen, parents of late Austin McEwen have claimed that administrators of the Amazon were completely aware about the hazardous weather that was approaching but they executed no emergency plan nor tried to evacuate the employees stranded in the fulfillment center.
“Sadly, it appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five,” Alice McEwen said at a news conference.
Amazon “carelessly required individuals … to continue working up until the moments before the tornado struck,” the lawsuit says, and “improperly directed” McEwen and colleagues to shelter in a restroom, which it says the company knew or should have known wasn’t safe.”
“They had people working up to the point of no return,” said Jack Casciato, the McEwens’ lawyer.
Spokesperson of Amazon, Kelly Nantel released an official statement to counteract the lawsuit stating that the filed lawsuit “misunderstand key facts” such as the weather alerts, safety, and condition of the building.
“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,” Nantel said. “Severe weather watchers are common in this part of the country and, while precautions are taken, are not cause for most businesses to close down. We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued.”
Nantel said the company would defend itself against the lawsuit but would continue to focus on “supporting our employees and partners, the families who lost loved ones, the surrounding community, and all those affected by the tornadoes.”
4 defendants are named in the lawsuit including Amazon.com, project developer, and the construction company of the building. The lawsuit will be seeking approximately $50,000 from each defendant.