Trio Drop Suit Alleging They Were Injured Handling Bags of Breast Milk

Bottles of breast milk

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Three people have dropped their lawsuit against an Industry collector of human breast milk in which they alleged they lost their jobs for resisting work conditions in 2019 and 2020 that included lifting and tearing open heavy bags in cold temperatures.

Attorneys for plaintiffs David De La Riva of Los Angeles, Adrian Villalobos of El Monte and Karla Olivas of La Puente filed court papers Friday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis asking that the case against Prolacta Bioscience Inc. be dismissed "with prejudice," meaning it cannot be refiled.

The court papers do not state if a settlement was reached or if the case is not being pursued for other reasons.

The case was filed in June 2020, alleging wrongful discharge, retaliation, harassment and discrimination. In their court papers, attorneys for Prolacta Bioscience denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company and stated that the plaintiffs' claims were barred entirely or in part by the statute of limitations.

The company collects, stores and distributes human breast milk to hospitals and other health care providers. Lactating donors provide their frozen breast milk directly to Prolacta Biosciences in large, heavy plastic bags sometimes weighing more than 100 pounds, the suit stated.

The plaintiffs handled up to 700 such bags daily in temperatures of about 50 degrees at the facility in the 700 block of Baldwin Park Boulevard, the suit stated. The three allegedly had to rip bags open with their hands without sufficient protective equipment, sometimes causing severe injuries.

Management knew about the plaintiffs' injuries, but did not provide a safe working environment, the suit alleged.

The plaintiffs all had at least one surgery on their hands, wrists, arms or shoulders because of the "severe and preventable occupational injuries" they suffered on the job, the suit stated.

When the plaintiffs reported their injuries, they were reprimanded and targeted for negative employment actions, the suit stated.

One manager told De La Riva to "go get a better job" and another boss recommended to Villalobos that he "find a new place to work," according to the suit.

Olivas was denied a request for a different position and her work schedule was changed to her disadvantage, the suit stated.

All the plaintiffs resisted the work conditions and either requested or took medical leave, the suit stated. Management allegedly retaliated by either firing or forcing them to quit instead of trying to accommodate the trio.

Other employees have also been fired by Prolacta Biosciences for complaining about allegedly unsafe working conditions, the suit stated.

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