Chipotle Faces Another Lawsuit in E. Coli Outbreak

By MARTHA BELLISLE | November 9, 2015

A second Washington woman and an Oregon man who contracted E. coli after eating at a Chipotle franchise are suing the Mexican restaurant chain.

Jessica Ellis of Mount Vernon, Washington and Chris Collins of Lake Oswego, Oregon, filed federal lawsuits on Friday.

Health officials in Washington and Oregon say more than three dozen people have gotten sick with E. coli in an outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in the two states. More than 40 Chipotle restaurants remain closed in Washington state and the Portland area while authorities search for the cause.

Oregon health officials added one new case to the list on Friday, bringing the total to 13. Four of those sickened were hospitalized.

The 28 Washington cases are on the western side of the state. By county, the breakdown is 11 in Clark; three in Cowlitz; two in Island; six in King; five in Skagit and one in Whatcom. The five Chipotle restaurants associated with the E. coli outbreak are in Vancouver, Seattle, Kent and Burlington, health officials said Friday.

Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist said they’ve identified the DNA fingerprint in 17 of the cases, which will help officials learn the source. He said they are expecting final food testing results on Monday.

State officials say Chipotle has been cooperating with their investigation. The company says it is doing testing of its own to find out if it has a problem in its food-supply chain.

Bill Marler, the Seattle attorney representing Collins and Ellis, is asking the court to hold Chipotle liable for their illnesses.

Collins, 32, has told The Associated Press he ate a Chipotle chicken bowl with brown rice, black beans, tomato salsa, cheese and guacamole on the side. He said he missed nearly two weeks of work after falling ill. Marler filed his suit in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Ellis, 28, had a chicken burrito bowl at a Chipotle restaurant in Burlington, Washington, on Oct. 22, Marler told The Associated Press. While at work on Oct. 28, she began to experience gas and bloating which progressed to sharp pains, the suit said. After her diarrhea became bloody, she went to the Skagit Regional Urgent Care Clinic. Within days, she ended up in the emergency room.

Ellis missed six days of work and had to change her plans to visit Hawaii, the suit said.

Marler said he’s been retained by about a dozen other people who became sick after eating at Chipotle. Two of those people are children, aged 8 and 14, he said. They were hospitalized at a Seattle children’s’ hospital for about a week, he said.

The other Washington woman, Charmaine Mode, filed a lawsuit against the company on Tuesday in U.S. District Court. She got sick after eating a burrito bowl in a Chipotle restaurant in Vancouver, Washington.

(Associated Press writer Donna Blankinship contributed to this story.)

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