Arkansas attorney general files lawsuit against Family Dollar over rodent infestation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Arkansas’s attorney general says Family Dollar broke the law and put customers in danger by storing and distributing food, medicine, and other goods in a rat-infested West Memphis distribution facility.

A.G. Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar and its parent company, Dollar Tree.

In February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that products that came from the distribution facility in West Memphis could be contaminated due to unsanitary conditions, including rodent infestation.

FOX13 obtained photos and video from a former worker at the Family Dollar distribution center.

The footage showed just how infested with rodents the building was. They show dead rats found on the ground, but some were still alive and scurrying up a wall. The video also showed two rats fighting on the warehouse floor.

More than 400 Family Dollar stores were temporarily closed after the FDA investigation.

According to the attorney general, all 85 Arkansas stores were impacted by the contamination and recall, leading Arkansans to spend millions of dollars on products that were potentially contaminated by the infestation and health hazards of the facility.

The lawsuit alleges that despite warnings from the FDA and Arkansas Department of Health, Family Dollar continued to store and distribute goods in unsanitary conditions. The suit claims the conditions dangerously impacted the health of those that consumed the products.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages, restitution, and civil penalties on behalf of Arkansans who were impacted by the “unconscionable business practices of Family Dollar,” Rutledge said.

The company is facing other legal action.

Weeks after the FDA announced dozens of health and safety violations at the Family Dollar distribution center in West Memphis, one Memphis team of lawyers said they’re helping people take steps towards a class action lawsuit.

In March, Dollar Tree, the parent company of Family Dollar, revealed the company got a federal grand jury subpoena about the issue. The company said the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas requested information, documents and records about the pests, sanitation, and the company’s compliance with the law. The company said it would cooperate with the investigation.

A FOX13 investigation uncovered years of records that raised questions and showed this wasn’t the first time Family Dollar had health issues. FOX13 requested records documenting inspections from the FDA and the Arkansas Department of Health. The first clue something may be wrong was in July of 2019. An Arkansas Department of Health inspection found “maintenance of the grounds was inadequate to protect against contamination of food.” An inspector also found damage to dock doors that left openings to the outside and called it a “potential entry point for pests.”

RELATED LINKS:

Former Family Dollar employee shares video of rats inside distribution facility

FDA inspections reveal disgusting conditions at Family Dollar warehouse

Further investigation reveals Family Dollars’ rodent infestation is nothing new

Family Dollar customers react to product recall after rodent infestation at distribution center

Some Family Dollar stores reopening following rat infestation at distribution center

Class action lawsuit filed against Family Dollar