Milberg’s Family Dollar Class Action Takes On Rodent Infestation
by Brian Eckert
A rodent infestation at a Family Dollar distribution center in Arkansas was not disclosed or corrected in a timely manner, posing health and safety hazards to consumers, claims a class action lawsuit filed by Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC (Milberg). Milberg’s Family Dollar class action seeks a variety of remedies on behalf of shoppers in Tennessee and nationwide, including the replacement or refund of money paid to purchase certain products.
“History of Infestation” at Family Dollar Distribution Center
On February 18, 2021 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert about potentially-contaminated products sold at Family Dollar Stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
“No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions that we found in this Family Dollar distribution facility,” said the FDA.
The products originated from a distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas where an FDA inspection found a rodent infestation. The inspection uncovered “live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility.”
On the same day that the FDA published its alert, Family Dollar issued a voluntary recall covering drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and human and pet food products. The recall applied to more than 400 store locations to which these products were shipped from the West Memphis distribution facility. The affected stores were temporarily closed.
Family Dollar acknowledged in a press release that the presence of rodents is associated with Salmonella, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. An FDA review of Family Dollar company records found that more than 2,300 rodents were collected at the same facility between March 29 and September 17, 2021, “demonstrating a history of infestation.”
Lawsuit: Family Dollar Failed to Disclose Infestation, Harming Consumers
Attorneys for Milberg filed a class action complaint against Family Dollar on March 24, 2022 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
The complaint names as lead plaintiffs Linda White and Christine Robinson, Tennessee residents who purchased Family Dollar products that were later recalled. It seeks to establish a pair of classes comprised of “similarly situated” consumers:
- A national class consisting of all persons in the United States who purchased any over-the-counter medications, medical devices, dietary supplements, cosmetics, human food, and pet food products from Family Dollar for personal use during the applicable period (“the fullest period allowed by law”); and
- A Tennessee subclass comprised of Tennessee residents who purchased any over-the-counter medications, medical devices, dietary supplements, cosmetics, human food, and pet food products from Family Dollar for personal use during the applicable period.
“By knowingly failing to disclose the Rodent Infestation and associated risk of contamination to consumers and by failing to correct the problem, Plaintiffs and the Classes purchased Products of a lesser standard, grade and quality that do not meet ordinary and reasonable consumer expectations regarding the quality or value of the Products and are unfit for their intended purpose. Moreover, the contamination associated with the Rodent Infestation poses a health risk to consumers that used or handled the Products,” states Milberg’s Family Dollar class action.
The lawsuit accuses Family Dollar of committing fraud under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It also cites alleged violations of state consumer protection laws. The lawsuit seeks damages, attorney fees and costs, punitive damages, the replacement or refund of money paid to purchase the products, and “any other legal relief available.”
Consumers were harmed and “would not have purchased, or would have paid substantially less for the Products, had they been advertised correctly – which is to say that they would have been advertised as containing harmful ingredients from rodents,” the complaint adds.
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Class action lawsuits must be court certified before they can proceed. If certified with the proposed classes, all class members will automatically be included in the lawsuit and eligible to participate in any verdict or settlement that results.
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