The public-interest law firm Public Justice is hoping to revive a closely watched public nuisance lawsuit over COVID-19 protections at a meat-processing plant after a judge last month allowed a similar case to go forward against McDonald’s.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Kays had dismissed the public nuisance case alleging Smithfield Foods Inc. had failed to protect workers from COVID-19 at a plant in Milan, Missouri. His May 5 ruling was one of the first to address the legal responsibilities a company has to protect its workers from the coronavirus. In his decision, Kays sided with Smithfield in concluding that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had jurisdiction over the matter and, in any case, there was no “imminent harm” given numerous changes the plant, which had yet to have a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

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