An Arby official found frozen to death inside a walk-in freezer was inside for at least six hours in -10 degree conditions before police were called.
The four children of 63-year-old widower Nguyet Le – one of whom also worked at the restaurant and found his body frozen – are suing Arby’s over the death of their mother at a Louisiana restaurant and claim she ” struck with bloody hands trying to escape”.
The widow and her son, both from Houston, were temporarily transferred to work at the New Iberia restaurant, according to the lawsuit, which also alleges the freezer was broken and employees often had to use a screwdriver to open it.
Le entered the store shortly after 9 a.m. on May 11 to perform opening duties, according to the lawsuit. Some time between that date and the arrival of the other employees at 10 a.m., she got stuck in the freezer.
His body was found around 6:20 p.m., according to an initial report from New Iberia police and a statement from his lawyer. The lawsuit only says she was discovered “after” 10 a.m.
An Arby’s manager who spent more than six hours in a freezer before police were called was a widower and mother of four
According to a lawsuit, Le panicked and bloodied the freezer door in a desperate attempt to escape. Ex-workers said the freezer door (pictured) acted for months was reported to management
According to the National Weather Service, in conditions of 10 below zero, frostbite will begin to take effect in just 30 minutes. Hypothermia may begin to take effect soon after.
Warning signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable chills, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
Prior to taking a position at Arby’s in New Iberia, Le worked at another Arby’s restaurant in Houston, Texas as a general manager, the lawsuit says.
In February, his supervisor asked him to accept a temporary assignment and work at the Arbys’ in New Iberia, Louisiana, for what was to be four weeks, according to the lawsuit.
Her eldest son Nguyen lived with his mother and joined her for the mission, the lawsuit says. This placement was extended for several months.
The New Iberia Police Department wrote the day after its discovery that they suspected there was “no foul play”.
“The preliminary report from the coroner’s office indicates that hypothermia was the cause of death,” family attorney Paul Skrabeank told local station KATC.
“Which is horrible and that investigators found a fair amount of blood on the door so she had to fight her way out before she collapsed.”
A statement from the New Iberia Police Department the day after Le died said they received a report of a body in the freezer at 6:19 p.m. on May 11.
Le is pictured with her son, Nguyen, who found her frozen body and traveled with her on posting to New Iberia, Louisiana from Houston, Texas.
Pictured are the Arbys of New Iberia where Le’s body was found in the freezer. She was only supposed to be there for four weeks, but that was extended
Also named in the lawsuit, filed in a Texas court, are Turbo Restaurants and Sun Holdings. They are based in Texas and own several Arby’s restaurants.
A former employee of New Iberia Arby told Nguyen Le and his siblings that the restaurant’s freezer latch had been broken since August 2022 and employees had been using a screwdriver to open and close the door.
At other times, an oil can was used to keep the door open, according to the petition.
The family is seeking damages of at least $1 million. Her other three children are Tiffani, Nina and Trina.
They are seeking a jury trial and are suing for damages for his death, past and future mental anguish, conscious pain and suffering, loss of support and loss of love and affection, says the complaint.
A spokesperson for Arby told the Miami Herald in a May 26 statement that the New Iberia franchisee is “fully cooperating with local authorities as they conduct their investigation” into the “tragic incident.”
Turbo Restaurants and Sun Holdings have more than a thousand franchisees in 12 states, under the Applebee’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Golden Corral, IHOP, McAlister’s, Papa Johns and Taco Buenos brands.