An Illinois tornado victim, Austin McEwen’s family has sued Amazon for wrongful death while working in their Illinois Amazon facility. The Amazon lawsuit accuses that the company failed in warning its employees regarding the severity of the situation during the weather warnings throughout the area. It also failed to provide safety and shelter to the employees working in such dangerous weather, before the tornado struck the Edwardsville Amazon facility, resulting in the death of six employees, including McEwen.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has started an investigation in the matter after the filing since it is the first such action taken by someone related to those deceased during the emergency weather situation.
Alice McEwen and Randy McEwen, parents of Austin McEwen, said that supervisors at Amazon were negligent in handling the situation, not thinking about evacuation or an alternate safety plan when the weather warnings had clearly been given in advance.
“Sadly, it appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five,” the mother, Alice McEwen said in a press conference about their Amazon lawsuit. Their lawyer, Jack Casciato, said, “They had people working up to the point of no return.”
The Amazon lawsuit also alleged that “Amazon carelessly required individuals … to continue working up until the moments before the tornado struck.”
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel, on the other hand, said the lawsuit “misunderstands key facts”, denying the allegations in the Amazon lawsuit filed by the McEwen family saying, “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. We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued.” Each of the four parties involved with the locations including Amazon.com, the construction company that built the facility and the project’s developer, are all named in the lawsuit. The family seeks $50,000 from each of the defendants named in the filing.