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Chipotle Receives Grand Jury Subpoena in Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation

Legal News GavelContracting a foodborne illness is an absolute nightmare, and it can often lead to debilitating illnesses and even hospitalization. Since there are so many individuals involved in the food preparation chain, a wide variety of persons or businesses may be liable for your injuries. To make things even more complicated, each potential defendant may be liable under a different theory of recovery, including product liability, negligence, or strict liability.

To recover damages in a food contamination case, the plaintiff must typically prove that the defendant grew or sold the contaminated food, that the plaintiff consumed the food and suffered an illness, and that the defendant caused the contamination or failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the contamination.

Chipotle made headlines again this week when a grand jury issued a subpoena asking the national restaurant chain to provide documents related to the recent outbreak of norovirus disease at a California restaurant location that caused at least 234 cases of illness.

The subpoena was issued in December 2015 by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The grand jury proceeding was launched in connection with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California’s criminal investigation surrounding the restaurant’s recent foodborne illness outbreaks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also launched an investigation into the food chain.

According to the subpoena, Chipotle must provide a wide variety of information regarding its Simi Valley, California, location, which has been linked to a norovirus outbreak that occurred in August 2015. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the restaurant has indicated that it intends to “fully cooperate” with the subpoeana.

In addition to the August 2015 outbreak in California, roughly 30 students became ill after consuming Chipotle’s food in Boston, leading to 141 total cases of illness after the virus spread. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 10 states had verified accounts of E. Coli outbreaks and that 52 individuals became ill as a result of consuming Chipotle’s food. Another outbreak hit the Pacific Northwest in the fall of 2015, leading the restaurant to close 43 of its locations in the region.

On average, individuals contaminated with E. Coli will begin experiencing symptoms within two to eight days after ingesting the organism. The most common signs of E. Coli infection are diarrhea, which can include blood, and severe abdominal cramping. While some cases resolve within one week, others can be far more severe and lead to conditions like kidney failure. Individuals of any age or demographic can contract E. Coli, but it is typically seen in children under the age of five, the elderly, or individuals with weak immune systems.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms indicating that the individual may be suffering from a foodborne illness, it is critical to seek medical attention immediately. Many foodborne illnesses can cause permanent complications if they are not treated immediately. Receiving prompt treatment also helps ensure that public health officials can identify and track the outbreak, while creating a record to hold the responsible parties accountable.

At Moll Law Group, our dedicated team of food contamination lawyers has helped many victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after suffering a terrible and debilitating illness or from the death of a loved one. We know how scary this situation is for you and your family, and we can fight to assert your rights at each step of the litigation. We proudly serve clients across the United States, including in Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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