It was just a matter of time before someone filed a lawsuit following the norovirus outbreak at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Boston earlier this month. A mother of one of the victims, a 16-year-old boy, filed a lawsuit on Thursday for damages following days of illness, according to The Boston Globe. Nearly 140 people, mainly Boston College students, reported nausea and vomiting after eating at Chipotle that first weekend of December.
Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler tells the paper that this is the first of what he expects to be many lawsuits filed. "Chipotle needs to be held responsible for what happened," says the lawyer, who has been in touch with other students as well.
Chipotle closed the Cleveland Circle restaurant on Dec. 7 following an inspection that found that an employee came to work sick, and chicken and beef weren’t heated to the proper temperatures. The restaurant remains closed.
Chipotle may opt to settle out of courtAndrea C. Dow, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son Alexander Keough, says the boy ate a burrito at the restaurant on Dec. 4. The next day, he was vomiting. The family took him to Boston Children’s Hospital, where he was treated with fluids and anti-nausea medicine for $350.
Chris Arnold, communications director for Denver-based Chipotle, "As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on pending legal action. But I will note in incidents like this, we make it a priority to work with customers who have been impacted to resolve these issues."
The lawsuit claims that Chipotle’s negligence caused Keough "to suffer severe personal injuries, to suffer great pain of body and mind, to incur hospital and medical expenses, to have his education and recreational activities interrupted, and to have his ability to enjoy a normal, active, and healthy live adversely affected." Dow is seeking damages and reimbursement for medical and legal costs.
Other food-borne illness cases connected with Chipotle include a California norovirus outbreak affecting more than 200 people in August, an E. coli outbreak and a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota that made 45 people sick in September and an E. coli outbreak that made 52 people in nine states ill in November.
Earlier this week, Chipotle co-CEO and Chairman Steve Ells issued an apology in the form of a full-page ad that ran in 61 newspapers across the country. "The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me and I am deeply sorry."