A case involving the deaths of four Tyson Foods workers from COVID-19 can now proceed in state court in Iowa following a decision by the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Specifically, the court issued its mandate for a decision issued in late December finding that Tyson could not remove the action to federal court. In its opinion, the appeals court rejected the company’s claims it “was performing a basic governmental task or operating pursuant to a federal directive in March and April of 2020.”

Families of the workers at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, plant, had opposed Tyson’s request for a delay in issuing the mandate, saying they have been “thwarted in their attempts to even begin litigating the merits of their claims that Tyson’s negligence and misrepresentations killed their loved ones.”

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The court’s mandate is the document that gives full effect to the opinion and order. There should now be “no obstacle to the case proceeding in state court,” said Public Citizen attorney Adam Pulver, who argued for the families in the appellate court.

In its stay request, Tyson said it was thinking of filing a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court and cited appellate proceedings in a different court. “There is at least a reasonable prospect that the Fifth Circuit will disagree with this court and create a square circuit split, which would significantly increase the chances of Supreme Court review and reversal,” the company argued last week.

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