IOWA CITY, Iowa – A Texas company has been ordered to pay 32 mentally disabled workers $240 million in damages for what government lawyers described as years of around-the-clock abuse.
The federal jury in Davenport, Iowa, ruled Wednesday that Henry’s Turkey Service, of Goldthwaite, Tex., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and awarded 32 former workers $7.5 million in damages apiece.
The defunct company is unlikely to be able to pay that amount, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has suggested it will seek to recover company assets worth up to $4 million.
Henry’s began contracting the men out in the 1970s to work at West Liberty Foods’ turkey processing plant in West Liberty, Iowa.
Henry’s ran the rural bunkhouse where the men lived, which Iowa officials shuttered in 2009 due to unsafe conditions.
Photo: In this February 2009 file, authorities huddle near property used by Henry’s Turkey Service in Atalissa, Iowa, that housed mentally disabled men brought from Texas to work in a West Liberty, Iowa, turkey processing plant. / AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Harry Baumert
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