A new lawsuit reveals the heartbreaking details surrounding an Arby’s manager who allegedly froze to death in the walk-in freezer of a Louisiana restaurant.
The manager, Nguyet Le—a 63-year-old widow and mother-of-four—died on May 11 after becoming trapped in the long-faulty freezer while opening the restaurant. Her son, Nguyen, who also worked at the restaurant, discovered her body when he arrived later in the morning, according to the court documents.
An investigative officer found blood inside the freezer door, leading him to conclude that Le “beat her hands bloody trying to escape or get someone’s attention,” the lawsuit reads. “Ultimately, she collapsed into a fetal position face down on the frozen floor.”
Employees summoned police to the restaurant at 6:19 p.m. According to a preliminary autopsy, she died of hypothermia.
Le was from Houston, Texas, where she worked at another Arby’s Restaurant. According to the lawsuit, she was only at the Louisiana location for a four-week assignment. Her four children, including Nguyen, are now suing Arby’s for negligence. They’re seeking at least $1 million in relief.
Also named as defendants are Turbo Restaurants and Sun Holdings, which own over a thousand franchise restaurants across twelve states, including Applebee’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Golden Corral, IHop and Papa Johns.
The lawsuit alleges the latch to the walk-in freezer that trapped Le had been broken since August 2022, and employees used a screwdriver to open and close it, as well as a box to prop it open. It also claims that employees showed the issue to a district manager when they personally visited the New Iberia location.
Company policy was to “keep the freezer at -10 degrees or colder,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Sun Holdings caused Le’s death by failing to have the freezer repaired and failing to adequately supervise the New Iberia location, and that Arby’s was “grossly negligent in failing to inspect and train the personnel” at the site.
— BizToc (@biztoc) May 27, 2023