Hormel, QPP face lawsuit

Published 10:47 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Austin man has filed a lawsuit against Hormel Foods Corp. and Quality Pork Processors, Inc. on the claim he was injured after being in the vicinity of a machine that has caused a neurological illness in approximately 18 employees at QPP.

Dale Kinney, who is not a current nor former employer of either company, filed the lawsuit in Mower County District Court on three counts of strict liability, negligence and premises liability after he was allegedly “severely injured” by a compressed air device used to harvest pig brain tissue April 20, 2007.

The plaintiff is seeking a “reasonable amount in excess of $50,000,” records show.

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According to court documents, Hormel, who was served their complaint Nov. 21, 2008, filed a motion claiming they would not be able to enter a plea because the charges are “so vague or ambiguous that (Hormel) cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading.”

The company said in its motion the plaintiff did not “present a short and plain statement describing the grounds upon which his claims rest,” citing the fact Kinney has never worked for Hormel and did not describe his injuries or what allegedly occurred at the plant.

The motion was submitted by Hormel’s attorneys, Ryan Mick and Steven Wells of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP, Minneapolis. The names of legal representation for QPP were not available in court documents.

Kinney’s attorney, Paul Dahlberg of Meshbesher & Spence, Rochester, stated in their response that the “injury” the plaintiff inflicted should be obvious, referring to medical investigations by Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota Department of Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Centers for Disease Control into a neurological illness causing symptoms ranging from fatigue to numbness to paralysis. The exact cause is still unknown.

“For Hormel to claim it cannot make out what the complaint is trying to say is absurd,” Dahlberg stated in their response, dated Dec. 17, 2008. The attorney said they cannot require the plaintiff to “plead evidentiary facts,” and asked for the motion to be denied.

Attorneys for Kinney or Hormel could not be reached by deadline Thursday.