Prominent civil rights attorneys are suing Amazon on behalf of the victims of a deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville, Illinois caused by a tornado in December 2021, accusing the company of failing to let its workers heed tornado warnings and negligence in its warehousing construction and maintenance.
Six Amazon employees were killed by the Edwardsville tornado, one of several tornadoes that wreaked havoc across Illinois and Kentucky and killed more than 80 people on Dec. 11. The distribution center where they were working partially collapsed and injured several more workers, including four delivery drivers who are named in the new suits against the company.
The lawsuits against Amazon were filed on behalf of Deon January, the mother of killed worker DeAndre Morrow, and four drivers who were injured by the collapse: Jamarco Hickman, Evan Jensen, Jada Williams, and Deontae Yancey. The plaintiffs are represented by Ben Crump, the attorney who represented George Floyd's family and also represents a former Google recruiter suing the company over racial discrimination, as well as Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales and Patrick King and William Miller of MillerKing Law Firm.
The suit accuses Amazon of failing to address safety hazards in the warehouse, failing to properly follow tornado warning procedures, and failing to provide adequate tornado shelters, among a number of other allegations. Federal regulators with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration have a still-ongoing investigation into the tornado collapse; OHSA regulators investigate all workplace fatalities as a standard practice. Members of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee also requested information from Amazon about working conditions and warehouse safety with regard to the Edwardsville tornado earlier this month.
“Amazon had numerous warnings and opportunities to put their employees’ safety first, but they chose their bottom line instead,” Crump said in a press release about the lawsuits.
Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.