NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – The family of a woman who died in the New Iberia, Louisiana Arby’s on May 11 is suing the fast-food company, the family’s lawyer has confirmed.
Nguyet Le, 63, of Houston, was working as the acting manager of the restaurant when she was found dead in a walk-in cooler, according to the New Iberia Police Department. Paul Skrabanek, the family’s attorney based in Houston, said preliminary findings from the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office show that she died of hypothermia.
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Skrabanek said the family is suing, in part, because no one from Arby’s would respond to his inquiries. Nexstar reached out to Arby’s Thursday but hadn’t received a statement as of publishing time.
He also gave new details into what happened the night of May 11.
“I think once you see the police report, you’re going to see how horrific this was and how it was described to me,” Skrabanek said. “Her getting caught into this freezer and trying to beat on the door until her hands were bloody. There was blood all over the door and then she collapsed into a fetal position before freezing face-first to the floor.”
Le was a general manager with Arby’s in Houston, Skrabanek said, and the franchise’s corporate office asked her to go to New Iberia and help that store for a little while. The incident happened towards the end of her temporary assignment, after she’d been in New Iberia for four to six weeks.
Skrabanek said he spoke with someone who said they knew the latch on the cooler was not working properly, and that the problem was known and ignored by management.
“Apparently according to this former employee, they’ve had a problem and this has been broken since August of last year,” Skrabanek said. “Corporate even came through the restaurant some time between August of last year and the incident and personally witnessed it and saw this broken latch.”
The lawsuit alleges that, after talking to the former employee, they were using a screwdriver to help open and close the latch to the walk-in cooler. It also alleges that employees were in the habit of propping open the door with a box of oil because they didn’t want it to close all the way.