Family Dollar has a big rodent problem
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge last week filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar Stores that alleges the chain and its parent company, Dollar Tree, knew for years that it had a rodent infestation at a distribution center in the state and did nothing about it. As a result, according to the suit, the retailer wound up selling unsafe products at hundreds of stores in Arkansas as well as in five other states.
The suit brought by Ms. Rutledge followed a Food and Drug Administration inspection earlier this year that tied infestations at 404 Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee to the warehouse in West Memphis. The chain was forced to temporarily close the stores in connection with the infestation.
The FDA issued an unsafe product alert for Family Dollar going back to January 1, 2021 covering food, cosmetics, medical devices, over-the-counter medications and pet food bought from the retailer.
AG Rutledge cited the FDA’s findings in announcing her office’s suit against the company. The FDA’s inspection of the plant found “live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, 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.”
A fumigation of the warehouse in January turned up more than 1,100 dead rodents. Thousands more have previously been recovered, according to Family Dollar’s internal records.
“In many rural communities of Arkansas, families rely on discount stores like Family Dollar for essential products such as food, medicine or pet food,” said Ms. Rutledge in a statement. “Family Dollar has had knowledge of this dangerous and massive rodent infestation for over two years, yet they continued to sell and profit from potentially contaminated goods. Consumers lost money and could have lost their lives.”
The Arkansas AG is suing Family Dollar under the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The state is seeking up to $10,000 for each violation of the act and is seeking to revoke Family Dollar’s authorization to conduct business in the state.
“We don’t want to wipe out a source of groceries and medicines, but if those groceries and medicines are not safe, then we need someone else providing that service,” said Ms. Rutledge as quoted by The New York Times.
Family Dollar has not issued a comment.
- Attorney General Rutledge Files Suit Against Family Dollar Following Rodent Infestation – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
- FDA Alerts the Public to Potentially Contaminated Products from Family Dollar Stores in Six States – Food and Drug Administration
- Family Dollar Stores Issues Voluntary Recall of Certain FDA-Regulated Products in Six States Including Drugs, Devices, Cosmetics, Foods – Food and Drug Administration
- Arkansas Sues Family Dollar Over Persistent Rodent Infestation – The New York Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How does a situation like the one at Family Dollar’s West Memphis distribution center continue for so long? What can the chain do now to repair its reputation in the affected states and beyond?