In the aftermath of the devastating tornado swarm that struck an Illinois warehouse in December, claiming six lives, including that of an Amazon delivery truck driver, a legal battle unfolds. The family of the deceased driver, Austin McEwen, aged 26, has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com—the first lawsuit against the online retail giant related to the catastrophe. This legal action, brought forth by the Chicago-based firm Clifford Law Offices, is on behalf of the McEwen family and was lodged in the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison County, Illinois.
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon was well aware of the hazardous conditions, with tornado warnings in effect. However, it’s claimed that Amazon prioritized profit over safety. Attorney Jack J. Casciato, representing the McEwen family, has stated that they are seeking damages exceeding multi-millions of dollars.
In response, Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, defended the company’s actions. Nantel emphasized that the warehouse had been constructed in compliance with all relevant codes and that Amazon managers had closely monitored weather conditions. Furthermore, Nantel stated that Amazon’s team had promptly acted upon receiving tornado warnings, moving individuals to safety as swiftly as possible.
The catastrophic tornadoes struck on December 10, leaving a path of destruction across six U.S. states and causing fatalities and damage over a span of more than 200 miles. The Amazon delivery station, where six employees tragically lost their lives, had received tornado warnings just prior to the disaster.
According to reports from several employees, Amazon managers had directed workers to seek shelter in bathrooms after receiving emergency alerts from authorities on their mobile phones.
Casciato argued that the company had insufficient storm shelters and should have evacuated the warehouse when tornado warnings were initially issued a day earlier. He expressed that the lawsuit aims to hold companies like Amazon accountable and encourage enhanced safety measures.