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Family of employee found dead in walk-in freezer sues Arby's franchise

The suit alleges the restaurant had knowledge of an extremely dangerous condition at its restaurant since at least August 2022.
Family of employee found dead in walk-in freezer sues Arby's franchise
Posted at 12:01 PM, May 28, 2023

A lawsuit has officially been filed in Texas against Turbo Restaurants LLC, the company that owns the Arby's franchise where Nguyet Le was found dead.

According to the lawsuit, Le had worked at a Houston Arby's and then was contracted to temporarily work at a New Iberia, Louisiana, location.

She had only worked at that location for four weeks but her stay was extended to another two.

On May 11, her unresponsive body would be discovered by Le's oldest son, who worked alongside his mother at the restaurant.

Le was by herself at the time performing opening operations before the location opened, when the tragedy occurred.

Scripps News Lafayette spoke with the attorney representing the Le family, Paul Skrabanek who says both the inability to open the freezer door from the inside and the negative-degree temperatures may have led to the death of Le.

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"The preliminary report from the coroner's office is that hypothermia was the cause of death," said Skrababeank. "Which is horrific and that the investigating officers found a good bit of blood on the door so she must have fought to get out before collapsing."

A former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, says the broken latch on the door was known by employees and even management since August 2022.

"The freezer door has been broken for months, they're known about it, workers who have complained and everyone knows it, there were multiple work orders put in," the employee said.

The anonymous source also shared with Scripps News Lafayette photos from inside the freezer, showing the door latch that allegedly trapped Le and prevented her from escaping.

"This happened to the lady because of them. If they would have got the freezer door fixed, this wouldn't be an issue," said the anonymous source.

The lawsuit also backs up this claim, "However, they acted with conscious indifference in failing to repair the latch for nearly nine months. This was the cause in fact and proximate cause of Ms. Le’s death."

The family is seeking at least $1 million in damages from Turbo Restaurant LLC, the umbrella company for the Arby's location.

The damages the children of Le are seeking for the wrongful death lawsuit are listed as:

• Loss of consortium

• Past and future mental anguish

• Conscious pain and suffering as to the estate

• Loss of support

• Loss of love and affection

The family attorney has also asked that the walk-in freezer door be inspected by experts on behalf of the family and to see the alleged malfunctions of the latch.

This story was originally published by Christina Mondragon for Scripps News Lafayette.

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