Motion Seeks to Consolidate Lawsuits Over Family Dollar Rat Infestation Problems

Thousands of consumers were potentially exposed to infectious diseases or bacteria commonly carried by rodents due to massive Family Dollar rat infestations.

With a growing number of Family Dollar lawsuits being filed on behalf of customers exposed to products contaminated from rat infestation problems that have plagued the discount retailer, a motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) seeking to consolidate the claims before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Outraged shoppers nationwide began filing lawsuits against Family Dollar within days after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall announcement on February 18, following a recent inspection at the retailer’s distribution center in West Memphis, Arizona that observed rampant rodent and rat infestations.

The inspection revealed Family Dollar Inc. had documented thousands of reports involving rodents at the Arizona facility within a several month span in 2020, yet issued no recall to protect consumers from risks of salmonella food poisoning or a number of potentially harmful infectious diseases or bacteria commonly carried by rodents.

According to the FDA’s report, inspectors observed evidence of live rodents and dead rodents in various states of decay, as well as rodent extract pellets, gnawings, nesting and foul odors of decay all throughout the facility, including areas where human food is routinely stored. The report indicated these incidents were “too numerous to count.”

With potentially thousands of customers nationwide impacted by the recall, plaintiff Jerome Whitney filed a motion for transfer (PDF) on March 10, seeking to establish a federal MDL (multidistrict litigation) for the mounting Family Dollar Pest Infestation Litigation claims.

The motion indicates that at least six Family Dollar lawsuits already pending in different U.S. District Courts, which may result in duplicative discovery, inconsistent pretrial rulings and a waste of judicial resources. Therefore, Whitney requests that the litigation be consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman in the Western District of Tennessee for coordinated discovery and case management.

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The lawsuits allege that the Family Dollar rat infestation problems have exposed consumers across the nation to health risks for years, stating “Family Dollar stores in Las Vegas, Sacramento, Richmond, Miami Gardens, Pittsburgh, Canton, New York, and other areas had to close down over the past few years because of rodent infestations.”

The U.S. JPML is expected to consider oral arguments on the motion, including any response filed by Family Dollar Inc., after which the panel will determine whether centralized management is appropriate at this early stage of the litigation, and the most appropriate forum for the pretrial proceedings.

Family Dollar Recall and Salmonella Risks

The Family Dollar recall announced by the FDA impacts a variety of products including all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements and human and animal food products that were distributed to hundreds of stores in multiple states from January 1, 2021 through February 18, 2022.

As a result of the rat infestation at Family Dollar, the retailer has temporarily shut down at least 404 stores that may have received contaminated products from the West Memphis, Arkansas facility.

While the FDA has not confirmed any reported illnesses to date, the recall announcement warns customers to stop using the recalled products immediately, as they could be carrying Salmonella or a number of potentially harmful infectious diseases or bacteria commonly carried by rodents.

For healthy individuals, salmonella poisoning typically cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain lasting between four and seven days. The illness can become worse due to the delay in treatment because the infection can only be diagnosed by testing stool samples and is usually treated with antibiotics.

Among pregnant women, salmonella poisoning may cause still births and miscarriages. Occasionally, salmonella infections may travel through the bloodstream and produce illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis, which can cause severe to potentially life threatening health consequences.


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