JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Jackson family is taking on Frito-Lay in federal court. The heart of the case is whether a former worker died of asbestosis from the job.
From 1974 to 1999, Jimmie Ruffin worked as a machine operator and pest control worker at the Jackson Frito-Lay plant. In 2019, he suddenly died due to lung cancer. His son is trying to prove it was due to conditions at his job.
In class action lawsuit filed earlier this year, Reggie Ruffin and several other Jackson families called on Frito-Lay to acknowledge the old worksite had asbestos and workers were at risk.
“Families have gone through tremendous debts behind losing their loved ones. Some of these people had to pay for their own funerals, because they didn’t have any money. These families need to be financially compensated but also have some appreciation shown. Frito-Lay has made billions of dollars off the backs of these employees and then they just discard them like tools,” said Ruffin.
While employed, Ruffin claimed his father worked with pesticide spray, leading to mesothelioma exposure shown in his medical records. In other parts of the country, lawyers have also pointed to Frito-Lay buildings containing asbestos.
In the lawsuit, Ruffin listed damages Frito-Lay must compensate his and other families for lost earnings, loss of inheritance and emotional pain.
“Main thing I put in my argument was how Frito-Lay broke the law by not informing anyone the possible exposure and risk because then Frito-Lay would be responsible for the care of the employees.”
Mississippi has a three year statue of limitation on asbestos and mesothelioma claims, but Ruffin’s attorneys are pointing to the families not knowing about these diagnoses connections until recently as a loophole.
In all, seven other families are part of the class action lawsuit. Ruffin encouraged anyone who believes they’re victims to contact his organization C.A.U.S.E. Coalition by emailing ReggieRuffin50@gmail.com or calling (214) 931-5645.
12 News reached out to Frito-Lay for comment and process for internal asbestos claims. They responded the company does not comment on pending litigation.