By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.
Another patron who allegedly became ill after eating food contaminated with Salmonella has filed a lawsuit in Minnesota federal court against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. The complaint stated counts sounding in products liability, negligence, negligence per se, and breach of express and implied warranties (Aherns v. Chiptle Mexican Grill, Inc., February 5, 2016).
According to the complaint, in September 2015, investigators for the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture reported an outbreak of Salmonella among customers of at least 22 different Chipotle restaurants. The outbreak was associated with contaminated food sold by these restaurants. Reportedly, there were at least 64 outbreak-associated cases and nine people required hospitalization. The complaint outlined other outbreaks of E. coli in 10 states, stating that a total of 55 people were infected by E. coli 026, with the majority of illnesses reported in Washington and Oregon. The statement of facts recounted a second outbreak of E. coli 026 was identified by public health officials in three more states.
Allegations of wrongdoing. The patron’s products liability count alleged that the adulterated food product manufactured, distributed, and/or sold by Chipotle was, at the time it left the restaurant’s control, defective and unreasonably dangerous for its ordinary and expected use because it contained Salmonella, a deadly pathogen. In the negligence count, the patron alleged that Chipotle breached its duty to use reasonable care in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of its food products by failing to prevent or eliminate the risk that its food products would become contaminated with Salmonella or other dangerous pathogens. The patron further alleged, inter alia, that Chipotle failed to supervise, train, and monitor its employees and failed to use ingredients, supplies, and other constituent materials that were reasonably safe, wholesome, free of defects or adulteration, and that were safe for human consumption. The negligence per se count was based on Chipotle’s alleged violations of all applicable state and federal laws and regulations intended to ensure the purity and safety of food products.
Relief sought. Alleging that she incurred medical expenses in excess of $20,400, the patron sought damages for general pain and suffering; loss of past and future enjoyment of life; past and future medical and medical-related expenses; past and future travel and travel-related expenses; past and future emotional distress; past and future pharmaceutical expenses; and all other ordinary, incidental, or consequential damages that would or could be reasonably anticipated to arise under the circumstances. The patron also asked for attorneys fees and court costs.
The case is No. 0:16-cv-00283-RHK-FLN.
Attorneys: Joseph E. Flynn (Jardine Logan & O'Brien PLLP) for Kelly Aherns.
Companies: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.
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