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HomeNewsCourt Orders Family Dollar Stores to Pay $41.6 Million Fine for Mouse-Infested...

Court Orders Family Dollar Stores to Pay $41.6 Million Fine for Mouse-Infested Warehouse

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The week has been a challenging one for Family Dollar Stores. It is to pay $41.6 million for using a rodent-infested warehouse to distribute commodities to over 400 stores.

The sum is allegedly the largest criminal penalty of its kind. It comes after a U.S. Food and Drugs Administration investigation found evidence of rodents at the company’s distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas.

The evidence found included “live rodents, dead and decaying rodents, rodent feces, urine, and odors. There was also evidence of gnawing and nesting. The company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of causing goods to be “adulterated while being held under insanitary conditions” at a federal court hearing in Little Rock on Monday.

According to the department, the fine is the largest ever in a food safety case in the U.S. As part of a plea agreement, both Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree must meet “robust” corporate reporting guidelines for the next three years.

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According to the plea agreement, the company first received “mouse and pest issues” reports in August 2020. However, deliveries continued to 404 stores in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. 

The company admitted that some employees were aware in January 2021 that the conditions at the warehouse were illegal. Still, it kept up with the distribution of goods from the warehouse until January 2022. That was when the FDA’s investigation revealed the extent of the infestation. 

The building’s fumigation led exterminators to find 1,270 dead mice, according to the DOJ. It wasn’t until February 18, 2022, that they recalled all goods from the warehouse.

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U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said, “It is incomprehensible that Family Dollar knew about the rodent and pest issues at its distribution center in Arkansas but continued to ship products that were unsafe and unsanitary.”

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“Knowingly selling these types of products not only places the public’s health at risk but erodes the trust consumers have in the products they purchase,” he continued.

Dollar Tree said it fully cooperated with the DOJ’s investigation and was working to change its safety protocols. “Having reached full resolution with the DOJ, we are continuing to move forward on our business transformation, safety procedures, and compliance initiatives,” Dollar Tree Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said in a statement.

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“Since that time and even more directly when I assumed the CEO role, we have worked diligently to help Family Dollar resolve this historical matter and significantly enhance our policies, procedures, and physical facilities to ensure it is not repeated,” he said.

According to the company, it will return to the West Memphis site by the fall of 2024. By then, it will have a $100 million investment to improve the distribution while creating 300 jobs.

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