Beef jerky facility sued over finger cutting incident

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

A beef jerky worker was fired for being a good Samaritan. Pic: iStock/bhofack2
A beef jerky worker was fired for being a good Samaritan. Pic: iStock/bhofack2

Related tags Employment Occupational safety and health

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has filed a lawsuit against the owner of Lone Star Western Beef, John Bachman, after he fired an employee who called 911 to help a co-worker with a severed thumb. 

The suit, filed to the US District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Clarksburg division, said Bachman violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The beef jerky factory, which is now closed, is located in Marion County, West Virginia, according to the court order.

When a food processer working at the facility, Michele Butler-Savage, heard co-worker Chris Crane exclaim he had cut his finger, she used her personal cellphone to dial 911, the court document shows. But before the call went through, Bachman arrived and told her to hang up.

Owner of Lone Star Western Beef, John Bachman. Photo: Facebook

Instead of calling an ambulance, Bachman had a factory supervisor drive Crane to an urgent care clinic, where Crane was further transferred to a hospital emergency room.

“The emergency room was ultimately unable to reattach the severed portion of Crane’s thumb,”​ the court filing said.

Failed to sanitize

The court document also said Butler-Savage observed that Bachman did little to clean or sanitize the areas where Crane’s blood had spurted.

“Bachman discarded only the piece of meat Crane was cutting when he was injured, and did not discard other meat present in the area where Crane bled,”​ Butler-Savage said. “The areas where Crane bled were not sanitized until production was finished for the day.”

After Butler-Savage discussed her concerns about the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment with Bachman, she was discharged.

The court asked Bachman to pay damages to Butler-Savage for wages she lost resulted from her termination, and prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

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