The Chipotle food contamination saga is likely far from over. Even though the company has just announced changes to its food preparation and cooking methods, the various cases of contamination that began this summer have left in their wake numerous people throughout the country who became victims of foodborne illnesses tied to its food.
The problems first started getting media attention in October when the Tex-Mex chain closed 43 locations in the Pacific Northwest after customers were infected with E. coli. Then 140 people, many of them college students, became infected with norovirus after reportedly eating at a Boston area Chipotle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional five cases of Chipotle-linked E. coli. What's concerning is that the CDC says these could be part of yet another outbreak.
Now the company, whose stock has been plummeting in recent months, is seeing its first personal injury lawsuit tied to the norovirus outbreak. This lawsuit has been brought by the mother of a teenage boy whom she says was one of those sickened. The lead attorney in the case says that he expects to file more suits once the college students who contracted norovirus return from their winter break.
The current suit alleges that the fast-food chain's negligence caused the 16-year-old boy "to suffer severe personal injuries, great pain of body and mind, [and] to have his education and recreational activities interrupted." Tests reportedly show that the boy's body still contains the virus. The plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for medical and legal costs as well as other damages.
The full extent of the legal fallout for Chipotle remains to be seen. Early this month, the CDC reported that over 50 people had been sickened by E. coli linked to Chipotle food and 20 had to be hospitalized. That was before the norovirus outbreak. Fortunately, there are no reports of any deaths thus far.
Many cases of contaminated or improperly-prepared food are more isolated than this one. This means that it may be more difficult to link a foodborne illness to a particular restaurant or product. However, if you believe that you or a loved one were sickened or worse by unsafe food, you may want to determine what your legal options are. A Miami personal injury lawyer with experience in product liability can provide guidance.
Source: delish, "Chipotle Slapped with First Lawsuit After Norovirus Outbreak," Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, Dec. 19, 2015