Chipotle Facing First Lawsuit Linked To Boston Norovirus Outbreak That Sickened 140 People

It was bound to happen: the first lawsuit has been fired — er, filed against Chipotle in connection with the recent norovirus outbreak that sickened 140 people who ate at one of the chain’s Boston locations.

The mom of a 16-year-old boy who fell ill after eating at the same Boston College location linked to a total of 140 illnesses is suing the restaurant chain, seeking damages for the days he was sick, reports the Boston Globe.

The mom who filed this suit says her three teenage boys used to eat at Chipotle two or three times a week, and that she believed it was a healthier choice than other fast-food options.

“We believed in the brand,” she told the Globe. “I feel a little duped.”

She says her son had a burrito at Chipotle on Dec. 4, and began throwing up early the next morning. By the afternoon, “he was so sick he was almost catatonic,” she said. “He was sheet white. His heart was racing.”

After a trip to the hospital for fluids and anti-nausea medicine, the teen still has fully recovered, his mom says, and suffers from lingering cramps and dizziness. A test this week confirmed norovirus is still lingering in his system.

The lawsuit alleges that Chipotle’s negligence caused the teen “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.”

This is the first lawsuit against Chipotle but it’ll likely be far from the last. There are at least 139 people who also reported symptoms like nausea and vomiting days after eating at the location during the first weekend of December.

“Chipotle needs to be held responsible for what happened,” the lawyer leading the case told the Globe. He says he’s been in touch with several BC students and expects to file more suits after everyone is done with their holiday fun.

Though young people and students are probably not going to suffer in the long-term from norovirus, the lawyer said the lawsuits will “send a pretty clear message that… this is not something that should have happened.”

The restaurant closed on Dec. 7 by order of the city, after an inspection uncovered three major violations — including a worker who was sick on the job and a failure to adequately heat chicken and beef — and remains closed.

Chipotle’s communications director, Chris Arnold, said the company can’t comment on pending legal action as a matter of policy.

“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,” he said in a statement to the Globe.

In the meantime, Chipotle’s CEO and co-founder Steve Ells has been riding the apology train all over the nation’s newspapers, apologizing for the Boston outbreak as well as the that the chain has been linked to a nine-state E. coli outbreak that’s sickened more than 50 people.

Mother sues Chipotle over son’s bout of norovirus [The Boston Globe]