DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Attorneys in Durham filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit Monday against Mann + Hummel, based in Fayetteville.
The lawsuit claims the company is responsible for former employee Sherion Winfrey’s death, and is suing the company for gross negligence and discrimination.
Gerard Winfrey hasn’t been the same since his wife died on June 22, 2015.
“I miss her,” he said. “Every day there’s an emptiness.”
The family says Sherion Winfrey died from hot temperatures while working at a plant also known as the “Purolator plant” in Fayetteville.
She had worked there for 39 years and was nine days away from retirement.
“Sharon was looking forward to retirement,” said Gerard Winfrey. “We had plans of traveling and just enjoying ourselves.”
The lawsuit mentions the defendants should have known the plant was extremely hot and dangerous.
“Defendants put more emphasis on making money and profits than the safety that workers deserve,” said Willie Gray, one of the family’s attorneys.
CBS North Carolina confirmed that on the day Winfrey died, there was a heat advisory in Fayetteville, with the high of 97 degrees.
“This plant had two sides, an oil side, and an air side,” said Geeta Kapur, another family attorney. “The oil side is not air-conditioned and that is where Mrs. Winfrey worked.”
The family says the purpose of this multi-million dollar lawsuit is to make a difference and change the way the company does business.
“This litigation will not bring her back,” said Gerard Winfrey. “Nothing will. But, I do realize, something good can come from her death.”
The family says they hope this will make other workers speak up about conditions at the factory.
CBS North Carolina reached out to the company for a response about the lawsuit, but have not heard back.