The family of a Louisiana Arby’s manager who froze to to death in a walk-in freezer is now suing the fast food giant over claims that employees had complained the latch was broken on the door.
Nguyet Le, 63, was alone in the restaurant around 9am on May 11 preparing for the store’s opening when she became trapped inside the food cooler. Her son, who also works at the Arby’s, made the horrifying discovery.
New Iberia Police said there were blood stains on the doors which showed that she was trying to escape, but eventually collapsed into a fetal position. A preliminary report from the coroner’s office confirmed the mother-of-four died of hypothermia.
Attorney Paul Skrabanek, who is representing the family, is calling for a formal investigation into the restaurant’s alleged freezer malfunctions. A former employee told him that the latch on the cooler was not working properly since August, and that the problem was known and ignored by management.
He said the family is suing, in part, because his inquiries to Arby’s would have gone unanswered. The family is seeking more than $1millon in damages.
Nguyet Le, 63, a general manager at an Arby’s in New Iberia Louisiana froze to death on May 11, 2023 after becoming trapped in the restaurant’s walk in freezer while performing opening tasks
The inside of the freezer at Arby’s and location where Le, a mother of four and grandmother, was trapped inside and eventually died from hypothermia, according to a preliminary coroner’s report
Nguyet Le is pictured with her son, who also worked at Arby’s in New Iberia, and the person who discovered his mother’s body
A former male employee, who did not want to be identified, told KATC News that multiple work orders were submitted to fix the broken latch.
He had also taken photos inside the the freezer from prior complaints.
‘They’ve known about it,’ he said. ‘Workers have complained.’
It is unclear what the temperature was the day Le was trapped inside and the length of time she was fighting to survive.
The freezer is supposed to be negative 10 degrees by Arby’s standards, as per the former employee, but said the temperature is kept lower than that.
‘I believe she got stuck in freezer door and no one was there to help her out,’ he said.
According to the lawsuit, employees were using a screwdriver to help open and close the latch to the walk-in cooler, as per a former Arby’s employee.
The suit also alleges that employees were in the habit of propping open the door with a box of oil because they didn’t want it to close all the way.
The site of the New Iberia Arby’s location where general manager Le was trapped inside the walk-in cooler on May 11
The lawsuit filed against Turbo Restaurants, LLC, under the Arby’s Restaurant Group umbrella
The family is seeking more than $1 million in damages
Le, who worked as a general manager with Arby’s in Houston, Skrabanek, was asked by the franchise’s corporate office, to go to New Iberia to help run that location.
She had been near the end of her temporary assignment, after being there for nearly a month to six weeks.
DailyMail.com has contacted Arby’s for comment.
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