The family of an Arby’s employee has filed a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisana franchise where she worked after claiming the worker preventably died inside the restaurant’s faulty freezer.
Nguyet Le, a mother and grandmother from Texas, reportedly “beat her hands bloody” trying to escape the freezer, according to CBS News.
“The investigating officer relayed that inside of the door of the freezer had been bloodied leading him to conclude Ms. Le panicked once locked inside and beat her hands bloody trying to escape or get someone’s attention. Ultimately, she collapsed into a fetal position face down on the frozen floor. The preliminary autopsy findings were hypothermia as the cause of death.”
Le worked at the New Iberia Arby’s location for four weeks before receiving a contract extension earlier this month, according to Fox 34. Le’s son, who was working with her at the Arby’s, was the first to find her body inside the walk-in freezer on May 11.
Her four children have since filed a lawsuit against Turbo Restaurants LLC, which owns the franchise in question.
The family argues Le’s death could have easily been prevented.
The lawsuit reportedly specifically mentions the freezer door, which likely had a broken latch, the outlet reports.
Paul Skrabanek, the family’s lawyer, told Fox 34 that negative-degree temperatures inside the freezer, combined with the inability for her to open the door from the inside, ultimately led to Le’s death.
The outlet reports that these concerns were already well-known by several other former Arby’s workers, who asked to remain anonymous. According to employee accounts, management has been aware of the broken latch since at least August 2022.
“The freezer door has been broken for months… Workers have complained, and everyone knows it. There was multiple work orders put in. This happened to the lady because of them. If they would’ve got the freezer door fixed, this wouldn’t be an issue.”
The family is seeking $1 million in monetary damages, according to Fox 34. They are also asking for the walk-in freezer to be inspected and a trial by jury.
An Arby’s spokesperson shared a statement with CBS News regarding the incident. However, the company added it could not comment any further pending the investigation.
“We are aware of the tragic incident that took place at our franchised location in New Iberia, LA. The franchisee is cooperating fully with local authorities as they conduct their investigation. Due to this being an active investigation, we defer any further comment to the state police department.”
Furthermore, Turbo Restaurants has not publicly issued a statement regarding the case.