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New Lawsuit Alleges E Coli Hit Seattle Chipotle Way Before the Big Outbreak

Laura Murray/Thrillist

After revealing major declines in sales and that it recently became the subject of a federal investigation, you can safely say Chipotle hasn't had a happy new year so far. And yet, the fast-casual burrito chain still can't seem to catch a break with news this week of another lawsuit filed by a customer who said he fell ill from E. Coli after eating at a Chipotle restaurant months before the widespread outbreak that sickened dozens of people.

In a complaint filed in US District Court in Western Washington, Timothy Kniffin claims he became sick on July 25, 2015 after eating a meal of pork carnitas, white rice, salsa, peppers, guacamole, and chips at a Chipotle in Seattle, according to a report by The Seattle Times. The 27-year-old, who works at a cafe and bakery, was ultimately hospitalized from July 30th to August 2nd and was found to be infected with a strain of E. coli that health officials later determined was connected to the restaurant.

County health officials told the paper that Kniffin was among four people (two of whom were hospitalized), who were sickened in the small outbreak after eating at the restaurant in July, long before a separate E. coli outbreak infected 53 people in nine states as well as what the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is investigating as yet another E. coli outbreak connected to Chipotle.

Kniffin's lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages of more than $75,000 for pain and suffering, medical expenses, travel expenses, and compensation for being too sick to enjoy his life and a Chipotle spokesman would not comment on the pending case, according to the report. Another lawsuit recently filed against Chipotle claims that the chain allegedly misled shareholders about its food safety controls. In December, the company announced a commitment to becoming an industry leader in food safety, and at the time, said it continued to serve a million customers a day without incident. 

h/t Eater

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.