Man Sues Dollar Tree, Claims Post-Traumatic Stress After Being Bitten By Rat

A Philadelphia-area man claims he’s suffered “mental anxiety and anguish and severe shock to his entire nervous system” and has been unable to work after he was bitten by a rat while shopping for ribbon at a Dollar Tree store in March. So of course he’s filed a lawsuit.

According to the plaintiff’s lawyer, the man reached to grab some ribbon from a shelf at a Dollar Tree store when he felt a pain in his right index finger: “When he looked in, a rat was biting his finger and would not let go… He actually had to shake the thing loose.”

The man claims to have spotted an entire nest of rats in a box on the shelf. And when a store manager and another employee came over to assist the bitten shopper, three more rats jumped out at them.

The lawyer says the store’s manager told the plaintiff to go to the hospital and send the bills to the Dollar Tree. He did go to the hospital, where he was given antibiotics and had his finger bandaged, but he never sent the bill; he lawyered up instead.

“They took a very dismissive and cavalier attitude to the whole thing,” says the legal eagle. “so I found it necessary to file a suit.”

According to the suit, the plaintiff has yet to regain full use of his finger and has been diagnosed with “significant” post traumatic stress disorder. Because of this, he claims he’s been unable to return to work as a roofer since the incident.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in compensatory damages.

Suit: Roofer in anguish after rat attack [Philadelphia Inquirer]

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  1. Talisker says:

    So was the box of rats $1 or were they $1 each?

  2. pantheonoutcast says:

    They offered to pay for his hospitalization and he instead turns around and sues them with a bogus PTSD claim?

    Dollar Tree’s lawyer should offer him a settlement. Of $1.

  3. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    It’s Always Rat Attacks in Philadelphia

  4. Browncoat says:

    Because he was bitten by a rat, he can’t work as a roofer…..ooookay

    • Rickdude says:

      Don’t you see? It makes perfect sense, because when he’s on a roof and reaching for ribbon…

      Okay, it makes no sense.

    • Pinklette says:

      Well here in AZ we have a big problem with roof rats, so maybe he’s afraid of encountering one of those?

    • Conformist138 says:

      Ever tried to work one-handed? He doesn’t have use of the finger, so if there’s pain he might have too much lost functionality with that hand. Being on a roof, I’d probably want use of all my limbs.

      • Browncoat says:

        Wow, didn’t know you couldn’t be a roofer with one injured finger (he didn’t loose his whole had to the rat). And the main reason he can’t roof seems to be the PTS. We are a society of wimps.

  5. dolemite says:

    50K? I could see that if it bit his finger completely off.

    That’s gotta be like 1.5 – 2 years of wages on a roofer’s salary, and he’s only missed a few days of work?

    • The Marionette says:

      I’d like to introduce you to america. The country that will sue if they themselves sneeze too hard and throw their own back out.

  6. pop top says:

    As a pet rat owner, I find his story very hard to believe. Rats rarely, if ever, bite, and even then they usually only do a small “warning” nip (except in abuse cases where the rat has been mishandled). They also wouldn’t jump out at someone to attack them.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      Does your experience cover feral/untamed rats? Feral or untamed rats will bite to protect their young or their nests, or if they feel threatened.

      • pop top says:

        I don’t see them leaping great distances to attack someone though.

      • SpruceStreetPhil - in a new Pine flavor says:

        Feral is the wrong word here. I own rats, and rats are (in my opinion) just as tame as a tame lion will be, maybe a little more, but not on the same level as a dog. My rats love to put their teeth on you, but they don’t bite. This sounds like the rat was just protecting its young.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      That was my first thought. Rats are usually prone to running away.

      Though I have seen some pretty surly mamas in nests.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I had a rat take a fairly large chunk of skin off my hand when I was working in my crawl space. It was incredibly painful and required a couple of stitches and antibiotics. It wasn’t a fun experience but it was definitely not $50,000 worth of pain.

    • Judah says:

      He reached right into the nesting area of a mama rat. Of course he got bit!

    • FrugalFreak says:

      ackkk…EWWWW

    • Conformist138 says:

      I have a pug, but I’m not going to pet a wolf.

      I actually raised rats for years and domesticated rats are like kittens. Perfectly safe, totally tame, most reputable breeders will feed them by hand as babies. They don’t have a strong smell and just make great pets.

      However, these were not pet rats. These were wild animals and they are not the same as our pets. You do not just jump into a sewer and get a new pet. These animals may carry diseases (if they are living in view of people and attacking, they very well could be sick) and they’re not particularly clean, which means bites get infected.

      Please, do not assume that because Mr Whiskers sits on your shoulder and watches TV with you that a wild animal will behave the same way. This is how people get hurt and this is how innocent creatures wind up killed after they “attack” someone that was stupid enough to grab them.

    • Wolfbird says:

      He stuck his hand in what is presumably a feral rat nest. Feral rats bite, this is a fact of life. If the rat was in a box of ribbons like the story says, it’s possible the rat felt cornered.

      Also, there is a reason why young rats and mice are referred to as “hoppers” in the herp community. They’ll popcorn around if they’re afraid. Adult rats would probably jump too, especially if they were in a box and the only escape route was up.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    You know who also hates rats? Indiana Jones. And yet he seems to man up about it and continue living his life.

  8. Grogey says:

    I call Bull….. what was the manager supposed to do get down on his knees for 15min and say hes sorry. He did what anyone should have done told the guy to go to the hospital and send us the bill. There isn’t much else you can do…

  9. chiieddy says:

    Store tries to do the right thing.
    Customer sues.

    This is why companies lawyer up before offering to do the right thing.

    • watch me boogie says:

      Exactly – perfectly exemplifies What Is Wrong With This Country.

      Watch out, corporations: even if you do the right thing, you better not come across as being “cavalier” about it or your ass will be dragged to court.

      *incoherent grumpy mumbling*

    • BigSlowTarget says:

      Yep, B.S. legal claims are the 21st century version of low level corruption. Once upon a time you had to pay off the gang, mob or cops to run a business or else they’d make your life ‘hard for you’. Now you have to pay off the lawyers or you’ll be shut down. Don’t worry though, all the costs either get passed back to the paying customers via higher prices or to the government and banking customers via bankruptcy.

      How can anyone who works construction be PSD’d by a rat!? It’s not like you don’t see them all the time working (or even walking around) in a big city. Personally for $50k + medical expenses I’d be delighted to let a rat bite me once on the finger. Where do I apply for the job?

  10. c!tizen says:

    A roofer can’t return to work after a bite to his finger? I have a buddy that works construction, the roofer he uses (the guy does great work, quick and professional) only has 7 fingers. This dude is a p&^sy.

    • redskull says:

      Well, he WAS buying ribbon…

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      But he’s a pussy (what? That’s a bad word? Are you a member of the AFA?) who found a lawyer that’s likely working pro bono. You can pretty much guess what happens next.

  11. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    That was my first thought. Rats are usually prone to running away.

    Though I have seen some pretty surly mamas in nests.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      This was an attempted response to Squinko, and the site decided to flip out on me and post this here.

      Anyway, the point is that rats don’t usually go all insane on people unless they have a really good reason.

      Also, this guy almost certainly does not have PTSD. I’ve been bitten by all manner of beasts, and I certainly don’t have freakin’ PTSD.

  12. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    How long until someone files a suit on behalf of the rat, which no doubt has been likewise traumatized and can no longer work?

    • Snaptastic says:

      The rat isn’t anywhere near as sensitive as this “man,” thus feels no desire to file a lawsuit.

      I’m sure Dollar Tree offered it a week-old Cheetoh as compensation for its troubles.

  13. dbeahn says:

    We’re really turned into a nation of pussies, haven’t we?

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I really have to laugh at this one. Consumerist posts questionable lawsuits all the time, and I’m usually on the consumer’s side unless I get evidence to the contrary.

    But this is ridiculous.

  15. notovny says:

    Some feral cats and snakes will clear that right up.

  16. Lanuria says:

    If there were rats in the store, wouldn’t the store be shut down until it was cleaned up/the rats were dealt with? Or does that only apply to places that serve food?

  17. theycallmeGinger says:

    This is funny in a ridiculous way, but it brings up a very sad point. How many soldiers are suffering with PTSD but their doctors won’t diagnose it? Soldier suicides have reached a record high and still their problems are largely ignored. And this jackass thinks he has PTSD from a rat bite.

  18. brinks says:

    PTSD? Really?

    This man is going to get made fun of for a long time.

    • dolemite says:

      I’ve worked in contruction with roofers, etc…I can’t imagine anyone will have (or has had) any respect for someone that cries about a rodent biting a finger (unless rabies was involved or something).

  19. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Maybe Michael Jackson’s Ben came on over the store pa and provoked the rats.

    Oh, they don’t play music in the Dollar Tree anymore….. nevermind.

  20. teke367 says:

    Hmm, $50k isn’t all that much, and I don’t blame the guy for seeing a lawyer, just in case it led to further complications and he was worried by letting Dollar Tree pay his hospital bill he would give up any right to seek more if a problem arose.

    But I’m sure there is a better way. Perhaps lawyer up, let Dollar Tree pay the hospital bill, but with an agreement that possible further complications (if he got rabies or whatever, I really don’t know what to worry about after a rat bite) would still be the responsibility of the store.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Hey, rats carry the plague, you know! He might get sick later on.

  21. slappysquirrel says:

    Don’t know that I would have sued over it, but that would have traumatized the hell out of me.

  22. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    I didn’t know roofers were such pussies. Pardon my vernacular, but I can’t think of a better way to put this.

    I’ve been bitten by a rodent. Granted, it was a pet, but it’s why I don’t keep rodents as pets any more. Yes, being bitten by a rodent hurts like hell (especially Degus), but it heals and you get over it.

    I give no shit if Dollar Tree’s attitude was “cavalier,” they said “Send us the bill.” That’s that. Anything more is gratuitous and drives up costs for Dollar Tree, which I’m willing to bet has a hell of a time keeping a decent profit margin to begin with. The plaintiff’s action drive up the costs for every other shopper at the Dollar Tree, so essentially, he’s trying to profit from the poorest set in America. Bravo, asshole!

  23. Xene says:

    Post traumatic stress…the poor man can never put his hand in a drawer or box again.
    And he can never watch Flash Gordon…ever.

    I could see a bit of post traumatic stress if one of the employees were dressed like a rat hiding in the ribbon and bit him, actually I think that was on America’s Funniest Home Videos, they just stop the tape before the trauma.

  24. AngryK9 says:

    I thought rats did not bite their own kind.

  25. Major Annoyance says:

    I don’t usually side with the company but this guy smells like last weeks dead carp. And the scary part is that either the company will cave and settle with the gold digging twit or some judge as off the wall as he is will award him whatever he’s asking for and then some.

  26. mandy_Reeves says:

    Well, I can totally empathize with this poor guy. I have PTSD although undiagnosed and milder than this guys, from several encounters with dead birds and ALfred Hitchcocks The Birds. I seriously for YEARS could not go near a pet store’s bird section. Or near a museum’s animal exhibits or even a frikkin zoo aviary because birds scared the crap outta me.

    I still get jittery near the bird section of PetCo or PetSmart.

    So if I were this guy, I would totally be afraid to reach up onto a shelf where I couldn’t see clearly what was behind it…for fear of rats. Even in a kitchen cabinet I might be afraid, and forget about being barefoot with my feet hanging over the edge of a bed or under a computer desk…Yup….stick me on this dudes jury.

    • brinks says:

      We all have things that creep us out, scare us, etc., but PTSD is not the same thing. War veterans suffer from this, not dudes with rat bites.

      The store should be on the hook for his medical bills. Being such a creepy situation, I’d say throw in something for pain and suffering along with a reasonable amount of lost wages. Medical plus a couple thousand maybe, but not what he’s asking for.

      After that, this guy needs to get over it.

  27. Cyniconvention says:

    I got bitten quite a lot by my hamsters growing up. Mind, I’d be startled as well to see Mr. and Mrs. Rat shopping in Dollar Tree.

    But them jumping at him? I’m sorry, but LOL, that part is just hilarious.

  28. fuceefacee says:

    I agree that the lawsuit is over the top. But what about the fact that the Dollar Tree having rats on the shelves? All Dollar Trees sell lots of food items. This is not a good situation.

    Like Indiana Jones I have a real phobia for rodents. If it had happened to me, I would have been traumatized by the event. Though the claim he can’t work and having PTSD is ridiculous, he does deserve some sort of compensation.

  29. Dallas_shopper says:

    I dunno, I might sue too…not because I would want the money, but just to punish the crap out of a store that is infested with rats. It’s hazardous to health and it’s disgusting; rats are filthy disgusting creatures.

    If I won $50k from them I’d pay my hospital bills and donate the remainder to charity.

  30. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    He has PTSD from a rat bite? I’e been bitten by animals much bigger than rats and never had PTSD from any of them. I even have an anaphylactic reaction to fire ants. I literally almost died from a bite. Guess what? No PTSD.

    Rats aren’t exactly aggressive either, so I find it hard to believe that he had to shake the rat off.

  31. kayakfoster says:

    The court system is designed to compensate for damages a person wrongfully incurs as a result of another party’s negligence. The Dollar Store offered plaintiff to cover his medical bills. I am sure if he negotiated further they would provide him certain compensation for failing (being negligent) to remove rats from their store.

    Instead the man goes to lawyer, probably as soon as he left the hospital. We live in litigation society which is a pity. Legal system is now used by people like this to cash out on accidents and injuries.

  32. Dutchess says:

    I hate going into these stores ALMOST as much as I hate Walmart.

    You think you’re getting a good deal on things that cost a dollar but most of the time it’s garbage.

  33. zibby says:

    Cheap ribbon is no bargain.

  34. LightningUsagi says:

    And the spool of ribbon he originally went in for.

  35. SJActress says:

    Not that I would ask for $50,000, but I have an intense phobia of rodents, and I honestly don’t think just covering my medical bills would cover it for me. I would seek SOME sort of compensation, although I’d try to work it out with them before filing suit.

  36. sonneillon says:

    Yeah he should have negotiated with them for pain and suffering and lost wages for the day he was in the hospital. Now he will pretty much get that minus legal fees. Or dollar tree might settle with him for 10k-15k so he will go away, which I think is what he hopes for.

  37. pantheonoutcast says:

    And a complimentary rat.