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Plant Worker Sues Employer After Wife Dies from COVID-19

When employees refused to wear masks, he says supervisors failed to act.

Rigoberto Ruiz works at the Birds Eye frozen vegetables processing plant in Darien, Wisconsin.

Ruiz says the company failed to follow CDC guidelines at the facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which led to him contracting the disease and passing it to his wife. 

On May 5, 2020, his wife, Martha Amador De Ruiz, 54, succumbed to complications from the coronavirus. 

In February 2021, her husband of 30 years filed a wrongful death lawsuit against parent company Conagra.

According to the Janesville Gazette, the lawsuit alleges that when employees refused to wear masks, supervisors failed to act. 

The company says it has mask and shield requirements, as well as plexiglass barriers between workstations when social distancing isn't possible. 

In July 2020, more than a quarter of the facility's 800 workers tested positive for COVID-19 and the company suspended operations after the information went public. 

According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, Rigoberto also struggled with the disease. At the time of his wife's death, he was in the same hospital, just two rooms away.

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