Jack J. Casciato, partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, filed a lawsuit against Amazon for its lack of safety measures following a predicted tornado in Edwardsville, Illinois, that killed six in an Amazon warehouse, and is questioning the timing of the departure of its worldwide head of safety, Heather MacDougall.
Media reports have said an internal Amazon memo dated Monday, September 12, 2022, states she is leaving in a few weeks after just three years with the company.
MacDougall’s exit comes at a time when Amazon is under intense pressure related to undercutting safety in order to put productivity first at its warehouse facilities. Amazon has faced scrutiny of late over injury rates, and the issue has helped to fuel a union uprising at some of its fulfillment centers.
Casciato filed a lawsuit on behalf of a young driver who was ordered to come back to the fulfillment center despite weather reports of an impending tornado that ultimately struck the facility on December 10, killing six people inside who had not been instructed by Amazon officials on safety protocol. They ran to a bathroom for protection, but the outside walls collapsed on them.
“Clearly safety continues to be an issue with Amazon,” Casciato said. “Even in the rebuilding of the partially destroyed Edwardsville warehouse, no storm shelters are part of the new development plans, yet Amazon continues to sell such safety structures to its customers without a concern to utilize them for their own workers.”
Casciato filed a lawsuit against Amazon in January on behalf of the family of 26-year-old Austin McEwen, a driver who was killed in the facility when the tornado struck on December 10, 2021.
“There was an apparent lack of emergency training, evacuation drills, or access to appropriate storm shelters because they were non-existent,” Casciato said. “And our investigation has uncovered that the facility was not up to structural codes, particularly in an area known as Tornado Alley.”
The lawsuits are pending in state court in downstate Illinois.
For further information or to speak to Jack Casciato, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).