A Texas family is seeking at least $1 million in damages following a devastating tragedy that should have been prevented. A broken Arby’s walk-in freezer door latch played a pivotal role in the death of the restaurant’s general manager, Nguyet Le. The employee, who was 63 years old, essentially passed away from hypothermia. As a result of the faulty door latch, Le was trapped inside the freezer that was set to the company policy of at least minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Her four children have since filed a wrongful death lawsuit and are blaming her death on gross negligence.
The key factor in the case is the length of time that passed between the acknowledgement of the broken door latch and the death of one of Arby’s employees. The franchise operators were made aware of the dangerous situation but failed to address or properly fix the problem. In the nine months since the latch broke in August 2022, the employees were forced to prop the door open with a box of oil and open and close the door with a screwdriver. Despite this improvised method of operating a walk-in freezer door, on the morning of May 11, Le was trapped inside.
As one of the most horrifying details of the case, Le was alone in the restaurant and nobody was able to help her escape. In addition, her son, who also worked at that Arby’s location, was the individual who found her. According to the reports of an investigating officer, the condition of the back of the door on the inside indicated signs of Le attempting to escape or at the very least call for help. Although Le typically worked at a Houston Arby’s location, she was temporarily reassigned to oversee the New Iberia, Louisiana restaurant, where the incident took place. Her family is suing Sun Holding Inc., its subsidiary Turbo Restaurants, and the Arby’s franchise.