HOUSTON, Texas (WFLA) – The family of a 63-year-old Arby’s employee has filed a lawsuit against the store’s franchise owner and Arby’s after she was found dead inside an Arby’s freezer in Louisiana last month.
According to the lawsuit, on May 11, Nguyet Le, 63, was dropped off at the Arby’s restaurant in New Iberia, Louisiana, so “she could perform some opening duties.” The lawsuit stated that other employees did not arrive at the local chain until 10 a.m.
In between the time that Le had gotten dropped off and others began to arrive at work, Le became trapped inside the walk-in freezer. According to the lawsuit, the freezer is supposed to be kept “at least -10 degrees if not colder,” per company policy.
However, the lawsuit, which was filed by Le’s four children, claims that the latch on the freezer had “been broken at least since August 2022” and alleges that both the franchise owner and the regional manager knew about the broken latch and did not fix it.
According to the lawsuit, employees “used a screwdriver to open and close the door” and also used a “box of oil to help keep the freezer door open.” A former employee even said that when the regional manager visited the New Iberia location, the employee “personally showed him the broken freezer door” after Aug. 2022.
The investigating officer stated that the inside of the freezer door “had been bloodied, leading him to conclude that Ms. Le panicked once locked inside and beat her hands bloody trying to escape or get someone’s attention,” according to the lawsuit.
A preliminary autopsy found that hypothermia was her cause of death. The lawsuit stated that she had “collapsed into fetal position face down on the frozen floor.”
Le was found dead by her son shortly after he arrived at the store. Her son worked at the same Arby’s restaurant with her, according to the lawsuit.
The 63-year-old woman began working at the New Iberia Arby’s after she was asked to temporarily take on an assignment as the general manager at the Louisiana location in Feb. 2023. Le was working as a general manager at an Arby’s in Houston before she was asked to make the move.
The lawsuit stated that her assignment was only supposed to last four weeks, but the regional manager extended her assignment by another two weeks.
Now, Le’s four children are seeking at least $1 million each in damages, alleging that Arby’s and Turbo restaurants are guilty of negligence and gross negligence for knowing “an extremely dangerous condition at its restaurant” and “failing to repair the latch for nearly nine months.”
Le’s children said the failure to repair the broken latch was “the cause in fact and proximate cause” of their mother’s death.
The full lawsuit can be found below: