Arkansas attorney general files suit against Family Dollar Stores, Dollar Tree after rodent infestation at distribution site

An outdoor sign beckons customers to a Family Dollar store in Jackson, Miss., in this Nov. 26, 2019, file photo. (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree accusing them of selling products that were potentially hazardous, adulterated or contaminated because of exposure to a rodent infestation at its West Memphis distribution center.

The Arkansas Department of Health inspected the West Memphis Distribution Center multiple times in 2021, according to documents filed today in Pulaski County Circuit Court. During an on-site inspection March 3, 2021, inspectors reported seeing significant rodent activity where human food and pet food were stored.

Inspectors noted that members of Family Dollar management stated they were aware of the rodent issue, court documents said. On April 2, 2021, Arkansas Department of Health inspectors reported that effective measures were not being taken to stop the infestation.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert about various products purchased within the last year from Family Dollar Stores, citing unsanitary conditions at the distribution facility in Arkansas. An FDA inspection found that a rodent infestation could have potentially contaminated the products sent to six states.

Family Dollar issued a voluntary recall in February of particular items sold after Jan. 1, 2021, at hundreds of stores throughout Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

The potentially harmful products included human foods, animal foods, cosmetics, medical devices and over-the-counter medications, court documents said.

The lawsuit states that “During this time, Family Dollar made significant profits while knowingly exposing Arkansas consumers to potentially hazardous or contaminated products by allowing and failing to prevent long-lasting and massive rodent infestations and other unsanitary conditions at its West Memphis Distribution Center.”