Louisiana Arby employee dies after being trapped in freezer

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 employee died preventably in the restaurant’s malfunctioning freezer .

Arby’s worker “beat her hands bloody” before dying in the walk-in freezer, the lawsuit says

Nguyen Lea Texas mother and grandmother reportedly “beaten her hands bloody” while trying to escape from the freezer, according to CBS News.

“The investigating officer said that the inside of the freezer door was bloody, leading him to conclude that Ms. Le panicked after the lockup and beat her hands bloody to escape or get someone else’s attention to arouse. Eventually, she collapsed face down on the frozen ground in a fetal position. According to the preliminary autopsy findings, the cause of death was hypothermia.”

According to Fox 34, Le worked at New Iberia Arby’s location for four weeks before receiving a contract extension earlier in the month. Le’s son, who worked with her at Arby’s, was the first to find her body in 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 easily have been prevented.

The lawsuit reportedly specifically mentions the freezer door, the latch of which was likely broken, the outlet reports.

According to the lawsuit, it was Nguyet Le’s son, who also worked with her, who discovered his mother’s body in the restaurant’s walk-in freezer on May 11. https://t.co/nrxvTCRGim pic.twitter.com/xyG77Pufsq

— Action News 5 (@WMCActionNews5) May 31, 2023

The lawsuit alleges that management knew about a broken freezer door latch

Paul Skrabanek, the family’s lawyer, told Fox 34 that sub-zero temperatures in the freezer and the fact that she couldn’t open the door from the inside ultimately led to Les’s death.

The outlet reports that these concerns were already known to several other former Arby’s employees, who asked to remain anonymous. According to employee information, management has known about the broken bolt since at least August 2022.

“The freezer door has been broken for months… Workers have been complaining and everyone knows it. Multiple work orders have been entered. This is thanks to the lady. If the freezer door had been fixed it wouldn’t be a problem.”

According to Fox 34, the family is seeking $1 million in damages. They are also calling for an inspection of the walk-in freezer and a trial by a jury.

A spokesman for Arby’s shared a statement on the incident with CBS News. However, the company added that it could not comment further until the investigation was completed.

“We are aware of the tragic incident that occurred at our franchise location in New Iberia, LA. The Franchisee is fully cooperating with local authorities in conducting its investigation. As this is an active investigation, we are postponing any further comment to the State Police Authority.”

Additionally, Turbo Restaurants has not issued any public comment on the case.

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