Arby’s Employee Found Dead Inside Freezer by Her Son: Lawsuit

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The lawsuit obtained by Inside Edition Digital says the employee “beat her hands bloody trying to escape” the freezer.

The family of a widowed mother of four has filed a lawsuit against her employer after they say she was locked inside a freezer and died.

In a lawsuit obtained by Inside Edition Digital, the estate of Nguyet Le, 63, is seeking at least $1 million in damages, claiming Arby's and the Turbo Restaurants are guilty of negligence and gross negligence in not fixing the freezer door for over nine months.

Le was found dead by her son inside the freezer on the morning of May 11 inside an Arby’s in New Iberia, La.

The lawsuit says that the investigating officer at the scene said the “inside of the door of the freezer had been bloodied leading him to conclude Ms. Le panicked once locked inside and beat her hands bloody trying to escape or get someone’s attention. Ultimately, she collapsed into a fetal position face down on the frozen floor.”

The preliminary autopsy findings  determined hypothermia as the cause of death.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Harris County, Texas, alleges that a latch on the freezer door had been broken since August 2022 and the store franchise owner and regional manager knew about it but didn't fix it.

The freezer had to be kept at -10 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, the lawsuit said.

Employees say they had to use a screwdriver to open and close the freezer door and often used an oil box to prop the door open, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit says that a former employee says he personally showed the broken door to the regional manager after August 2022.

The attorneys for Le’s estate say she worked as a general manager of an Arby's in Houston, Texas, but in February 2023, she was given a temporary assignment as the general manager of the New Iberia Arby's in Louisiana. The assignment was to last four weeks but was extended another two weeks, the lawsuit says.

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to Sun Holdings and Arby’s for comment and has not heard back.

A spokesperson for Arby's did give a statement to USA Today which said, "We are aware of the tragic incident that took place at our franchised location. The franchisee is cooperating fully with local authorities as they conduct their investigation. Due to this being an active investigation, we defer any further comment to the state police department.”

A spokesperson for Turbo Restaurants sent Inside Edition Digital a statement saying, "We want to acknowledge the tragedy of this incident. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Le family at this difficult time. While we do not publicly comment on pending claims or litigation, be assured that there is an ongoing investigation into this incident, and we have and will continue to cooperate with the authorities as requested.”

Attorney Paul Skrabanek who is representing Le's estate tells Inside Edition Digital via email his law firm is awaiting the results of the inspection of the freezer to comment.

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