Houston family sues Arby’s after 63-year-old woman ‘beat her hands bloody’ before dying in restaurant freezer

63-year-old Nguyet Le was temporarily working at a New Iberia, Louisiana Arby’s when she died. Her son found her body in the restaurant’s freezer.

The children of a Houston woman who died in an Arby’s walk-in freezer earlier this month are suing the fast food restaurant and franchise owner, alleging her death could have been prevented.

Nguyet Le, 63, died May 11 at the Arby’s in New Iberia, Louisiana, where she was on a temporary general manager assignment. The duty was supposed to last four weeks but was extended by two weeks, according to the lawsuit filed in Harris County.

SEE ALSO: Woman’s body found in freezer at Louisiana Arby’s restaurant

Le’s son, who worked with her, found her dead in the freezer.

“Ms. Le fought for her life. She had a panic moment,” said Houston attorney Paul Skrabanek, who represents the family. “She beat so hard that her hands [were] bloodied and there was blood on the door and ultimately fell into the fetal position on the floor face first. And the cause of death is hypothermia.”

According to the wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence and gross negligence, the freezer was typically kept at 10 degrees below zero if not colder. Also, the freezer latch had been reportedly broken since August 2022 and employees say they have had to use a screwdriver to open and close the door, adding that a box of oil was used to keep the freezer door open.

“The freezer door has been broken for months. They’ve known about it, workers who have complained and everyone knows it, there was multiple work orders put in,” a former employee told a Louisiana television station.

They didn’t want to be identified but shared photos from inside the freezer.

“This happened to the lady because of them... if they would’ve got the freezer door fixed this wouldn’t be an issue,” the former employee said.

Skrabanek said the door got fixed a day or two after the death.

“We’ve hired a pathologist to help us understand what it is like to freeze to death. And what’s been relayed to me is that it’s similar to burning to death. It’s panic, sheer panic. It’s curling up, not being able to move at some point,” Skrabanek said. “Hopefully the silver lining [hopefully] what comes out of this is that the Le legacy is that things get safer in restaurants like this.”

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Arby’s wrote in a statement that the location is independently owned by Turbo Restaurants, LLC, part of Sun Holdings. Turbo Restaurants have released the following statement:

“We want to acknowledge the tragedy of this incident. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Le family at this difficult time. While we do not publicly comment on pending claims or litigation, be assured that there is an ongoing investigation into this incident, and we have and will continue to cooperate with the authorities as requested.”

About the Author:

Bryce Newberry joined KPRC 2 in July 2022. He loves the thrill of breaking news and digging deep on a story that gets people talking.