Chipotle's bad week is getting worse. That's because the burrito chain is now facing multiple lawsuits related to an apparent food-borne illness outbreak involving nearly 400 people who say they became ill after eating at one of its Ohio locations. And while the company is cooperating with the local health department to get to the bottom of the cause, it may take more than some free guac to dig itself out of yet another food safety incident.
Chipotle's latest troubles started earlier this week after dozens of people reported to have fallen ill after eating at the chain's Powell, Ohio location over the weekend. That number has since jumped to include almost 400 people, and now, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against the company. Additionally, a man who claims to have suffered food poisoning after eating at the Chipotle in question has filed a separate lawsuit against that particular restaurant, seeking $25,000 in damages, according to a report by Eater.
The larger suit, which was initially filed jointly by the law firms Ron Simon & Associates and DiCello Levitt & Casey on behalf of a single customer, who allegedly got sick after eating tacos from the Powell Chipotle on July 29, is hoping to achieve class-action status.
“It’s extraordinary that this is the seventh outbreak caused by Chipotle in recent years,” said Mark A. DiCello, a partner at DiCello Levitt & Casey, per a press release. “Through this lawsuit and with the dozens of claims we are investigating, we will determine where and how Chipotle once again failed to protect its customers. This has become far too routine at Chipotle, and ultimately we want to make sure that the company doesn’t let this happen again.”
The law firms have reportedly been fielding calls left and right from people who similarly fell ill at that particular location.
"Our phone is ringing off the hook," Ron Simon told NBC News. "We had six prior outbreaks with Chipotle. I've handled hundreds of cases against this company."
Chipotle voluntarily closed the location in question on Monday and has been cooperating with local health department officials there, who have already interviewed 200 people who reported symptoms consistent with food poisoning, according to a report by CNBC.
The popular burrito chain has been hard at work rehabilitating its reputation in recent years after a spate of massive food-borne illness outbreaks sickened hundreds of its diners across the country. After bringing in a new CEO who formerly ran Taco Bell, the company has recently announced some big changes, and is set to soon introduce new menu items, a customer loyalty program, and even happy hours. It seemed to be steering in the right direction, too, having reported better-than-expected earnings just last week. However, this latest apparent bout of food poisoning once again calls into question its health safety practices, which is some unwelcome deja vu for the brand.