State Watch

Amazon sued over fatal warehouse collapse during tornado

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
An Amazon distribution center is heavily damaged after a strong thunderstorm moved through the area Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill.  

The family of a delivery driver who was killed last month in a tornado has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amazon after six people died in one of its facilities, The Associated Press reported

In the lawsuit filed on Monday in Madison County, Ill., the family of Austin McEwen claims that the company failed to warn its employees about the incoming inclement weather and provide safe shelter for them before the storm hit on Dec. 10

The family says Amazon “carelessly required individuals … to continue working up until the moments before the tornado struck” and improperly let McEwen, 26, and his colleagues shelter in a restroom where the company knew it wasn’t safe. 

“Sadly, it appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five,” Alice McEwen, Austin McEwen’s mother, said at a news conference.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $50,000 from each of the four defendants named in the suit, which include Amazon, the construction company that built the collapsed facility and the project developer, the AP reported. 

In a statement to the news wire, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company will counter the lawsuit, saying it “misunderstands key facts” about the severe weather alerts and the condition and safety of the building. 

“This was a new building less than four years old, built in compliance with all applicable building codes, and the local teams were following the weather conditions closely,” Nantel said in her statement. 

“Severe weather watches are common in this part of the country and, while precautions are taken, are not cause for most businesses to close down. We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued,” she added.

Tags Amazon Illinios Madison County Meteorological phenomena Meteorology Tornado Weather hazards

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