Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court OK’s $6,300 Fine Against Sanderson Farms

(CN) - Sanderson Farms must pay $6,300 to the estate of a worker who died in a fire started by his blowtorch when a pallet of frozen chicken fell on him, the 5th Circuit ruled.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission fined Sanderson for its failure to safely store the frozen chicken.

In April 2007, maintenance worker Harvey McDonald was pinned by frozen chicken that fell on him while he was trying to repair an overhead rack. He died from the fire started by his cutting torch, which he had been using for repairs.

An administrative law judge upheld the citation, and the New Orleans-based federal appeals court affirmed.

"There was evidence that the racks were designed to support the heavy weight they held, but the evidence also showed that some were dilapidated and their legs were often twisted or broken," the appellate panel wrote.

"In addition, the ledges that held the pallets were narrow (3 ½ inches) and often not loaded properly. Tiers of boxes of chicken in the pallets were tall, leaning, and not bound together," the court added.

"Thus, although the entire structure was basically stable when undisturbed, the pallets and boxes became unstable when they were struck or disturbed, as they often were."

The court upheld the $6,300 fine for Sanderson's storage violation.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.