A U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation had earlier found thousands of rodents at the facilities–some dead atop product conveyor belts.
Arkansas has filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar after investigators found more than 1,000 dead rodents inside one of the budget retailer’s Southern warehouses.
According to CBS News, the lawsuit was filed in Arkansas state court on Thursday.
In her complaint, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge accused Family Dollar of deceiving consumers, negligence, and engaging in conspiracy.
“Today, I am announcing a lawsuit against @myfamilydollar (and parent co. @DollarTree) for violating AR law when they knowingly endangered consumers by storing & distributing food, medicine & other goods in a rat-infested West Memphis distribution facility,” Rutledge wrote on Twitter.
“Despite warnings from the FDA & @ADHPIO, @myfamilydollar continued to store & distribute consumer goods in unsanitary conditions infested with live & dead rodents, feces & urine, dead birds & droppings. Conditions dangerously impact the health of those that consumed the products,” she added.
Family Dollar adds CBS News, closed more than 400 of its stores after the dead rodents were discovered inside its West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution facility.
A subsequent U.S. Food and Drug Administration report observed problems ranging from “four rat carcasses on the conveyor belt” to scattered droppings “too numerous to count.”
Retail expert Neil Saunders told CBS News that the F.D.A.’s investigation was concerning. Saunders said that the warehouse’s problems were “concerning” because consumers “rightfully want basic hygiene and safety standards to be adhered to.”
The F.D.A. said that Family Dollar had known that it had rats inside its distribution center since at least January 2020.
Rutledge’s lawsuit further accuses Family Dollar of neglecting its rat problem long before it recalled affected products, saying that the company “chose not to disclose this information to Arkansas consumers but continued to profit from the sales of its goods.”
“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 states.
The lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 for each violation of Arkansas’ deceptive trade practices laws, punitive damages, and restitution for all consumers who were affected by rodent-contaminated products.
Rutledge has also asked an Arkansas judge to suspend or revoke Family Dollar’s license to continue doing business in the Natural State.
In a statement, Rutledge explained that consumers in many rural Arkansas communities rely on low-budget stores like Family Dollar to meet basic needs—and that the company’s alleged negligence could have endangered residents’ health, safety, and well-being.
“In many rural communities in Arkansas, families rely on discount stores like Family Dollar for essential products such as food, medicine, or pet food,” Rutledge said. “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.”