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Food plant worker sues employer after contracting COVID-19

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) — A food plant employee is suing his Walworth County employer alleging he contracted the coronavirus at work and infected his wife who died from the disease.

Rigoberto Ruiz, of Beloit, says ConAgra Foods didn’t enforce a policy to ensure that employees wore masks at its Darien plant. Ruiz says supervisors failed to take corrective action when employees failed to wear masks at the plant, which processes frozen vegetables.

Ruiz’s wife, Martha Amador De Ruiz, died of COVID-19 complications on May 5, 2020.

Company spokesman Dan Hare said it has taken many preventive measures to keep people safe across the plant, including the use of face masks and shields, social distancing and plexiglass barriers between work stations where people work less than 6 feet apart.

Last July, 221 of the more than 800 workers at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus. The outbreak at the Darien facility was the third largest among facilities and businesses in Wisconsin as of June 1, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Conagra Brands, which owns ConAgra Foods, is asking the federal court in Wisconsin’s Eastern District to take the case from Walworth County Circuit Court, the Journal Sentinel reported.

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