MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Arkansas Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar over a rodent infestation that led to a massive recall and closed more than 400 stores.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge made the announcement Thursday afternoon.
In the suit, Rutledge claims Family Dollar made significant profits while “knowingly exposing Arkansas consumers to potentially hazardous or contaminated products by allowing and failing to prevent long-lasting and massive rodent infestations and other unsanitary conditions at its West Memphis Distribution center.”
Rutledge noted that she and her husband have a house near the Family Dollar in Marion, Arkansas, and she worried whether she had purchased some of the products affected by the rat infestation. Those products included food, pet food and over-the-counter medications, she said.
In February, 404 stores temporarily closed after an inspector with the Food and Drug Administration found more than 1,000 dead rodents at the West Memphis, Arkansas, facility over a five-day span in January.
A report from the FDA states more than 2,300 live rodents were captured in the facility from March to September of 2021.
The FDA says an inspection also found “rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination.”
The findings led the FDA to issue an alert, stating that many different types of products could be contaminated and unsafe for use.
The FDA said the products were shipped and sold in stores across Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri. Family Dollar issued a large-scale voluntary recall.
Arkansas shoppers like Rebecca Brown and Taniya Jones say the lawsuit is only fair.
“We used to buy snack foods and stuff like that from there but now we don’t even do that, because it’s just nasty,” Brown said.
“After people seeing that, they gone of course want a refund on everything they had,” Jones said.
WREG was first made aware of a rodent infestation at the facility in January, when former employees sent videos and photographs of rats inside the facility. One video showed an employee offering food to a rat.
Tennessee State Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) called for an investigation into Family Dollar as well as a boycott of the store. He said the company put customers and workers at the facility in danger.
“Those who have been selling these materials, those in warehouses who have been moving these materials around and breathing that contaminated air, they deserve some relief,” Hardaway said.
Family Dollar’s problems with rodents did not start this year, however. In 2019, a health inspection found rodent droppings on store shelves at a store in Hickory Hill.
The lawsuit also calls for possibly suspending the company’s business license in Arkansas..
While there is no guarantee you will receive money, the state Attorney General is asking shoppers to file a complaint at ArkansasAG.gov