MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The investigation into the rat problem at a West Memphis Family Dollar warehouse has taken a new turn.
The company could soon be faced with criminal penalties and civil lawsuits for allowing the warehouse to be overrun by rodents.
Dollar Tree, the parent company for Family Dollar, revealed in securities and exchange filing that the company was issued a federal grand jury subpoena about the pest issue.
This comes just as stores across the Mid-South re-open to customers.
“I know they had rats in some of the stores, but I didn’t know it was like that,” Raymond Lurrey, a frequent Family Dollar customer, said.
An FDA inspection report revealed unsettling details about the facility. It details problems ranging from ‘four rat carcasses on the conveyor belt’ to rodent droppings ‘too numerous to count.’
The company issued a recall on February 18 for multiple products, including food, cosmetics and drugs.
More than 400 stores were temporarily shut down as employees worked to clean stores and get contaminated items off the shelves.
“I was wondering what was going on and I was mad it was closed because this is the closest store around,” Oshunda Dewey, a frequent Family Dollar customer, said.
As stores start to reopen, class action lawsuits are being prepared on behalf of customers in at least six states.
On Tuesday, 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 has said it will cooperate with the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office would not comment on the investigation.
Dollar Tree, which owns Family Dollar, reported positive earnings for the fourth quarter, which ended a few weeks before the issues at the West Memphis plant broke.
The company will soon raise its prices on all items from a dollar to $1.25.
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