Popular fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill recently agreed to pay $25,000,000 to resolve criminal charges they faced for serving tainted food to consumers. According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors charged Chipotle with two counts of violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by serving food from 2015 to 2018 that made over 1,000 people across the United States, including Washington, D.C., sick. In addition to the fine—the largest ever imposed in a food safety case—Chipotle has also agreed to adhere to a new food safety program, to avoid incidents like this in the future.
In the agreement, Chipotle admitted to being connected to several foodborne illness outbreaks, including several outbreaks of norovirus. Norovirus, which spreads easily, is associated with stomach upsets, vomiting, and nausea. It is said that these outbreaks were largely due to Chipotle employees not following food safety protocols. Additionally, Chipotle employees acknowledged feeling pressure to come to work even when sick, which contributed to the spread of illness to others.
This case highlights the importance of food providers and restaurants taking great care when preparing food. Federal prosecutors take credit for holding Chipotle responsible for the illnesses they caused and have promised to continue to actively enforce food safety laws to protect the public health. Food safety advocates hope that the case will set an example for others in the industry, reminding them to review and improve their own food safety policies and ensure they are being followed.
However, while the fine and new food safety program may help prevent individuals from getting sick in the future, it does very little for those who have already gotten ill. Restaurants owe a duty of reasonable care to their customers to ensure that the food they serve is safe and healthy, and when they breach that duty, customers may be able to recover personally. Washington, D.C. law allows customers who become seriously ill from a restaurant’s negligent food preparation to sue the restaurant and/or the employees in civil court. If successful, these suits can result in serious financial compensation for the victim, including coverage of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While individual consumers are unlikely to get $25 million as the federal lawsuit did, they may be able to get what they need to recover and move on from the incident.
Have You Fallen Ill Due to Someone Else’s Negligence?
If you’re a Washington, D.C. resident who has recently fallen ill due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from the person or restaurant that served you the food. Contact the injury advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, today. Our attorneys have represented clients from Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia in a wide variety of cases, including Washington, D.C. product liability cases. With over $60 million recovered on behalf of clients like you, you can trust your case is in good hands when you work with us. To learn more, call us today to schedule a free, no-risk consultation at 800-654-1949. Or, fill out our online form.