Attorneys pursue class action lawsuits against Family Dollar in multiple states

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 5:21 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Attorneys in several states are pursuing class-action lawsuits against Family Dollar due to the rat infestation at the company’s West Memphis distribution center.

Lawsuits have been filed in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri.

Those are the states where Family Dollar closed more than 400 stores amid a voluntary recall of products that may have been contaminated.

Those products include human foods, pet foods, cosmetics, medical devices and over-the-counter medications.

Family Dollar issued the voluntary recall the same day the Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning last month, alerting the public to possible dangers.

Don Barrett, an attorney with the Barrett Law Group in Lexington, Mississippi, is one of the attorneys pursuing a class-action suit against Family Dollar.

“I mean the conditions in that plant, according to the inspectors, the government inspectors, were so filthy, it almost made you sick to read it. I don’t know how they could stay in there,” said Barrett.

Barrett said it’s clear Family Dollar was aware of the rat infestation for some time.

“Of course, they knew,” said Barrett. “We don’t know how high up, but I think this lawsuit’s going to find out pretty quickly.”

Luke Sanderson is a Memphis attorney who is also pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Family Dollar due to the rat infestation.

“We believe they’ve been turning a blind eye to this for some time and that they should have taken remedial measures to get this cleaned up,” said Sanderson.

In some of the suits filed, attorneys blamed “corporate greed.”

Whatever the reason for the rat infestation, Sanderson says its customers who are paying the price.

“Stores like Family Dollar are supposed to be counted on in places like Memphis, in certain areas of town that are potential food deserts, where they have no other place to go to buy their food other than Family Dollar,” said Sanderson. “We think there’s a general level of disrespect that’s been shown by Family Dollar to certain people in our in our community.”

The attorneys say because they’re pursuing class-action lawsuits against Family Dollar, all Family Dollar customers are already considered parties to the suits. The parties named in the cases are seeking relief for themselves and on behalf of all Family Dollar customers.

According to Barrett, if the court certifies the class, a public notice will be given, allowing customers to opt out to pursue their own individual claims, though this is rarely done because of legal costs.

Barrett said the case against Family Dollar is strong and he would be surprised if they don’t settle.

“We’re not going to get thrown out. They’re liable and they’re going to have to pay,” said Barrett. “The question is whether they want to drag it out.”

Action News 5 reached out to Family Dollar multiple times for comment on the lawsuits but has not heard back.

The company said last week it was in the process of “gradually” reopening its stores but had no timetable.

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