Family Dollar is being sued by Arkansas over the discovery of more than 1,000 rodents in a distribution facility that prompted the discount retail chain to recall items purchased from hundreds of stores in the South.
Filed on Thursday by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in state court, the lawsuit accuses the chain and parent company Dollar Tree of deceiving consumers, negligence, and engaging in a conspiracy that allowed the infestation at the West Memphis facility to occur.
“This misconduct by Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree allowed them to maximize profits while causing Arkansas citizens to purchase hazardous, adulterated, and contaminated products,” the lawsuit said.
In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it had inspected the distribution facility following a consumer complaint. Inside the building, inspectors said they found live rodents, dead rodents in “various states of decay,” rodent feces, dead birds, and bird droppings.
After fumigating the facility, more than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered, officials said. Family Dollar issued a temporary recall and closed 404 stores in six states – Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Numerous products that had been at the facility were removed from shelves. In February, Family Dollar said it was not aware of any illnesses related to the recall.
Rutledge showed reporters a video that a former employee had posted on social media of rats inside the facility. In one video, the former worker is trying to feed a potato chip to a large rat sitting on a stack of boxes.
The products included human foods, cosmetics, animal foods, medical devices, and over-the-counter medications.
Private lawsuits in several other states have been filed on behalf of customers following the infestations,
State and Federal inspections show Family Dollar had known of the rodent infestation at its facility since at least January 2020, according to the lawsuit.
Arkansas’ lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 for each product that was distributed over the past two years by the facility to Arkansas consumers that were affected by the infestation under the state’s deceptive trade practices act.