It was supposed to be a typical workday for Nguyet Le, the acting manager of an Arby’s in Louisiana. But the day would end in tragedy after Le found herself stuck in the restaurant’s walk-in cooler. Le was unable to escape and ultimately died from exposure.
Now her family is seeking justice? Who are they suing, and what damages do they seek?
What Led to a Woman’s Death in an Arby’s?
Nguyet Le, 63, lived and worked in Houston, Texas, where she was a general manager at an Arby’s. Four weeks before her death, her work brought her to New Iberia, Louisiana. The franchise’s corporate office asked Le if she’d assist at an Arby’s in New Iberia for a few weeks.
On May 11, Le was working as the acting manager of the restaurant. She was close to the end of her assignment and was supposed to soon return to her role at the Houston location, but then tragedy struck.
Le was alone in the restaurant and went into the walk-in cooler. The door shut and locked her inside. Company policy keeps the walk-in cooler set at -10 degrees. Police reports say Le bloodied her hands beating on the door, and preliminary findings from the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office say she died of hypothermia, as reported by FOX59.
Who Is the Family Suing?
Le’s family hired Paul Skrabanek, an attorney based in Houston, and they have filed suit against three companies associated with Arby’s.
According to CBS News reporting, the New Iberia Arby’s location is not owned by Arby’s corporate. It is operated by Turbo Restaurants, a part of a franchise management company Sun Holdings. The family is suing Turbo Restaurants, Sun Holdings, and Inspire Brands, the parent company of Arby’s.
The family says gross negligence led to Le’s death.
Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Why Does the Family Say Arby’s and Others Are At Fault?
The lawsuit alleges that it was known that the cooler latch was not working properly and it was ignored by management. A former employee said the latch had been broken since August 2022. The lawsuit also alleges that someone from the corporate office had been in the restaurant between the time the latch broke and Le’s death and saw the broken latch.
The former employee also said employees were using a screwdriver to help open and close the latch to the cooler and that they were often using a container of oil to prop open the door to prevent it from closing.
The family says the corporations are liable for Le’s death, and they are seeking over $1,000,000 in damages. The lawsuits say they cannot reliably state a maximum amount of damages at this time since they are in the discovery phase of the lawsuit.
Does the Family Have a Case?
The family’s lawsuit was filed in Harris County, Texas, and will abide by Texas law. It references both wrongful death and worker’s compensation laws in Texas.
The family will likely have to prove two things to win their case.
1. The family must prove the companies’ negligence or maliciousness led to Le’s death. The lawsuit lists the reasons why they believe the companies are at fault. It says they:
- Failed to have the freezer at the subject location repaired
- Failed to properly supervise its franchise location
- Failed to provide proper training regarding the franchise location
- Had knowledge of the broken freezer at the subject location but failed to take any action to remedy that problem
2. The family must prove the incident led to physical, emotional, or financial damages. The lawsuit lists the losses for the family as:
- Loss of consortium
- Past and future mental anguish
- Conscious pain and suffering
- Loss of support
- Loss of love and affection
The family is seeking a jury trial and will have to make their case for seeking justice for Le.
Get Justice for Yourself or a Loved One
If you or a loved one have been harmed by the negligence of another person or company, you deserve justice. Contact a personal injury attorney or wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to discuss the details of your case.
Get the justice you deserve. Schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi to review your case and see how our team can help you get what is owed to you. Contact our office or call 813-226-1023.