Woman hospitalized after eating Chipotle sues chain for free burritos
A 19-year-old woman who was hospitalized with E. Coli after eating at Chipotle has sued the chain with a highly unusual request: free food coupons.
The woman's lawyer, Bill Marler, said he was shocked by the request.
"I have being doing these kinds of cases for 20 years and sued every restaurant chain you can imagine and I have never seen people willing to go back to a restaurant under those circumstances," Marler told Business Insider.
Marler, who declined to identify his client's name, said Chipotle was "very accommodating" with the woman's request.
The company settled the case recently, paying her an undisclosed amount of money in addition to sending her about three dozen free burrito coupons.
The case was one of 96 that Chipotle recently settled involving food contamination. The cases stemmed from a series of outbreaks involving E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus at Chipotle restaurants in cities nationwide. The outbreaks are collectively responsible for sickening at least 500 people.
Marler represented the customers in every case. He said the 19-year-old woman wasn't the only client of his who was willing to return to Chipotle despite food contamination-related hospitalizations.
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"More than just a few of them were pretty big fans of Chipotle," Marler said. "In fact a couple of them, during their case, told me they had gone back to Chipotle — which i though was a little strange."
The clients that Marler represented had all fallen very ill after eating at the restaurant chain, and most of them were hospitalized, he said.
Chipotle's sales have plummeted as a result of the outbreaks. Same-store sales have declined for the last three straight quarters, falling 23.6% in the most recent quarter.
The company has changed its food handling processes to better prevent contamination outbreaks from happening in the future. It has also been giving out tons of free food offers to encourage customers to return to its restaurants.