Georgia Appellate Decision in Mar-Jac Case Considered Victory for Employers


October 25, 2018

ATLANTA, GA. – October 18, 2018 (jdsupra.com) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, recently limited an inspection of a Georgia poultry processing facility that was requested by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a worker accident. The decision is considered a major victory for employers, according to an article at jdsupra.com.*

On February 3, 2016, an unnamed employee of the Georgia-based poultry processing facility Mar-Jac Poultry Inc. was injured on the job. The employee was attempting to repair an electrical panel using a non-insulated screwdriver, and a resulting arc-flash caused severe burns to the employee’s face and hand. The employee was hospitalized for treatment of the burns.

The day after the incident, Mar-Jac submitted a report to OSHA, as required by federal law. OSHA responded by sending an inspection team to the facility, which requested to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the entire facility to check for additional hazards. Mar-Jac refused the comprehensive inspection and limited the inspection to the electrical accident site and the tools involved. OSHA’s inspection found three violations, including electrical safety, personal protective equipment, and guarding of machines violations. 

After reviewing documentation submitted by Mar-Jac, OSHA applied to a federal magistrate judge for a warrant to conduct a broader inspection of the Mar-Jac facility. The magistrate judge granted the application, and Mar-Jac moved to quash the inspection warrant. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia quashed the warrant and said OSHA could apply for a more limited inspection warrant. 

OSHA appealed to the 11th Circuit, and the Court of Appeals issued an opinion October 9 affirming the ruling of the District Court that quashed the broad inspection. The Court again informed OSHA that it may file a new application more limited in scope and consistent with the Administration’s probable cause. 

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