After investigators found evidence of a massive rodent infestation at a Family Dollar distribution center, Arkansas is suing the dollar-store chain.
The lawsuit accuses Family Dollar and parent company Dollar Tree of negligence, deception, and conspiracy, the Associated Press reports. “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 suit reads.
Arkansas' lawsuit comes after the chain was hit with a federal subpoena. Dollar Tree said it would cooperate by providing all requested information, including records regarding pests and sanitation at the facility.
The investigation prompted the recall of a huge range of products and the temporary closure of more than 400 Family Dollar stores in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. “Rodents and rodent activity” forced the chain to pull all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements, food, and pet food from shelves, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The recall didn't cover products shipped directly to stores, including frozen and refrigerated food.
An inspection report obtained by CNN detailed rodent droppings "too numerous to count," live rats climbing through pallets of potato chips, bags of mixed nuts that had been gnawed open, rotting garbage and piles of trash, dead birds, bird droppings on the floor, and an office that was stripped of ceiling tiles and carpeting because of overwhelming rodent odors. The report said Family Dollar's bait boxes and glue traps captured 2,300 rodents between March and September 2021. In January of this year, 150 roof rats were captured, and nearly 1,100 dead rodents were removed after fumigation.
Rodents can spread salmonella, which can trigger serious and sometimes fatal infections especially in young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.
This is just the latest bad press for dollar stores. Dollar General came under fire in December for unsafe working conditions, and Dollar Tree made waves in November for raising prices to $1.25 from $1. It had been the last major dollar-store chain selling most items for a dollar.
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