The Look in Brief

Lawsuit: Tyson Foods shorted construction firm millions for Gibson County plant

By: - January 5, 2022 5:00 am
Gov. Bill Lee with officials from Tyson Foods in Humboldt in April 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Gov. Bill Lee with officials from Tyson Foods in Humboldt in April 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A construction company has filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against Tyson Foods and the Industrial Development Board of Gibson County, claiming it was shorted payments for building and designing a poultry processing plant in Humboldt, Tenn. last year.

The 375,000 square-foot Tyson facility opened in April 2021 on property owned by the Gibson County board and leased to Tyson. At the time, Tyson referred to the project as a $425 million investment. The facility includes a processing plant, feed mill and hatchery. The plant’s construction was made possible, in part, by a $20 million state economic investment package.

The federal lawsuit filed on Dec. 29 alleges that Tyson failed to fully pay Gray Construction, the primary contractor on the project. Gray Construction was hired in 2018, but faced a series of delays as a result of other contractors’ missteps, the lawsuit claims. In some instances the construction company had to incur costs to fix problems caused by other contractors, the lawsuit says. Gray Construction also incurred unforeseen expenses as a result of COVID-19, including providing proper protective equipment.

The lawsuit accuses Tyson officials of operating in “bad faith.”  The construction company also filed a notice of a lien against the property to secure payments.

Although hailed by local and state officials, including Gov. Bill Lee at a ribbon-cutting grand opening ceremony, the presence of Tyson in west Tennessee has generated controversy, with local farmers and residents complaining of factory farming conditions that are out of character with the rural area and the odors and runoff that coming from chicken waste on farms that supply the Humboldt plant.

Neither Tyson nor Gibson County has responded to the lawsuit.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.