Arby’s manager found dead in freezer couldn’t escape due to broken door

An Arby’s general manager who “beat her hands bloody” trying to escape a walk-in freezer was found dead by her son inside the icebox last month after she became trapped inside by the broken door, a lawsuit claims.

Nguyet Le, 63, was found frozen to death inside the freezer of an Arby’s in New Iberia, Louisiana, on May 11 by her oldest son, who also worked at the store, a wrongful death lawsuit filed on Friday says.

Her four children, Nguyen Le, Nina Le, Trina Le and Tiffani Charubhat, seek more than $1 million in damages from Arby’s and franchisee Turbo Restaurants, USA TODAY reported.

The eight-page lawsuit alleges that the store’s freezer door had been broken since August 2022 and “employees used a screwdriver to help open and close the door” and “used a box of oil to help keep the freezer door open.”

Nguyet Le with her son, Nguyen Le, who worked with her at the Arby’s and discovered her body in the freezer, the family said.
Nguyet Le with her son, Nguyen Le, who worked with her at the Arby’s and discovered her body in the freezer.

According to the suit, Le, who had been temporarily assigned to work at that particular store, became trapped in the freezer and “beat her hands bloody trying to escape.”

The widowed mother of four usually worked in a Houston Arby’s but relocated to Louisiana for a month at the fast food chain’s request. The Louisana assignment was extended and her son Nguyen relocated there as well so he could work with his mom.

Le’s autopsy report confirmed she died from hypothermia. Temperatures inside the freezer likely ranged from 5 to negative 20 degrees, her children’s lawyers said in a news release.

Nyguyet Le
Nyguyet Le, 63, was a widowed mother of four.

Lawyers say management knew the freezer door was broken and ignored multiple work orders requesting repairs.

The lawyers also allege that management knew about the broken freezer door and multiple work orders were put in, but repairs were never made.

It’s unclear how long Le was trapped inside the freezer before she died, but according to court papers, she was in the freezer so long she “collapsed into a fetal position face down on the frozen floor.”

An Arby’s spokesperson told USA TODAY they were aware of the tragic incident and were cooperating with authorities.

Le’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Arby’s.

“We are aware of the tragic incident that took place at our franchised location,” an Arby’s spokesperson said. “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.”

Her children are also seeking a jury trial, according to the suit.

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