The children of an employee who was found dead in the freezer of an Arby’s Restaurant in New Iberia, Louisiana, are suing the business’s umbrella company, Turbo Restaurants LLC, for “gross negligence” that allegedly led to the death of their mother.
Nguyet Le, 63, was discovered dead inside the walk-in freezer by her eldest son around 10 a.m. on May 11 shortly after arriving for his shift at the restaurant. Le reportedly arrived at the Arby’s on East Admiral Doyle Drive an hour before on her own to complete opening operations.
According to the lawsuit filed on Thursday, Le died from hypothermia after being stuck in the icy container due to the freezer’s broken door latch. Le’s four children claim that the store’s franchise operators knew about the issue but neglected to fix it.
“The investigating officer relayed that 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,” the lawsuit reads.
In an interview with KATC, a former employee noted that management had known about the broken door latch since at least August 2022.
“The freezer door has been broken for months, they’re known about it, workers who have complained and everyone knows it, there were multiple work orders put in,” they said.
The anonymous source said employees had to use a screwdriver to open and close the door. They would also hold it open using a box of oil.
“This happened to the lady because of them. If they would have got the freezer door fixed this wouldn’t be an issue,” the ex-employee said.
Le’s children are seeking at least $1 million in damages for their mother’s wrongful death.
The 63-year-old worked as a general manager at an Arby’s in Houston. She was temporarily assigned to oversee the New Iberia restaurant in February.
She was employed by Turbo Restaurants, a subsidiary of Sun Holding Inc., which reportedly operates franchises like Arby’s, Burger King, Applebee’s and IHOP across 12 states.
The family’s attorney, Paul Skrabanek, is calling for a formal investigation into the restaurant’s alleged malfunctions of the freezer.