An Arizona woman has sued Red Lobster Hospitality alleging that she contracted E. coli from eating a salad at a Red Lobster in Phoenix. Styles v. Red Lobster Hospitality, LLC, No. 18-1361 (D. Ariz., filed May 1, 2018). The plaintiff alleged she ate the salad, which contained romaine lettuce, on March 23, 2018, and became ill around March 29, 2018. After she was hospitalized, she tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, which has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli from romaine lettuce grown near Yuma, Arizona. Claiming breach of warranty, strict liability and negligence, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees. A similar lawsuit was filed against Panera Bread Co. in April 2018.
A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit alleging Panera Bread Co. sold her salad greens contaminated with E. coli, causing her to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome after she consumed the meal. Fraser v. Freshway Foods, Inc., No. 18-7734 (D.N.J., filed April 16, 2018). Filed against Panera and its lettuce supplier Freshway Foods Inc., the complaint asserts that Panera sold contaminated lettuce sourced from Yuma, Arizona, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked to an E. coli outbreak. Alleging the lettuce was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” in violation of the New Jersey Products Liability Act, the plaintiff seeks damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses and attorney’s fees.
A federal court in New York has dismissed with prejudice a shareholder suit against Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., finding the plaintiffs were unable to allege that the company made “demonstrably false” statements about foodborne illness outbreaks linked to its restaurants. Ong v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, No. 16-0141 (S.D.N.Y., entered March 22, 2018). The plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle and three of its executives misled shareholders and the public in 2015 and 2016 statements after outbreaks of norovirus, E. coli and Salmonella were linked to its restaurants. In addition to finding Chipotle’s annual reports contained sufficient disclosures about its processes, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that executives who knew about the outbreaks' connection to Chipotle sold more than $214 million in stock because the stock sales occurred months before the outbreaks were linked to the company.
Scotland’s Crown Office reportedly will not prosecute Errington Cheese for the death of a three-year-old linked to an outbreak of E. coli in 2016. A March 2017 Health Protection Scotland report apparently found Errington’s unpasteurized Dunsyre Blue cheese to be the “likely” source of the outbreak and the cause of the child’s death. The Crown Office reportedly concluded that the child died from complications of an E. coli infection, but it decided not to pursue criminal action. After the outbreak, a local council government banned the sale of some of Errington’s artisanal sheep’s-milk cheese, and the company reportedly plans to challenge the ban in early 2018.
A Colorado federal court has dismissed a shareholder derivative action against Chipotle alleging the company’s officers and directors of food-safety oversight failed to take action to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness. Gubricky v. Ells, No. 16-2011 (D. Colo., order entered June 7, 2017). The plaintiff claimed the defendants had failed to implement and enforce effective food-safety procedures, monitor compliance with food-safety laws or commit necessary resources to store audits and risk assessment after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks. The complaint further alleged that the board failed to take action or offer sick employees paid leave until 2015, seven years after the outbreaks began. In a shareholder derivative suit, plaintiffs must plead “with particularity” why demanding the corporate board to take corrective action would be futile, the court said, but the plaintiff failed to plead facts specific to each director establishing a “substantial likelihood of personal liability.” The plaintiff must…
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced new recommendations limiting the amount of fruit juice that children consume to reduce the risk of obesity and dental caries. Whole fruit is preferable to fruit juice for nutrition and healthy weight gain, the group stated, because 100 percent juice is mostly water, with small amounts of vitamins and minerals and no fiber. The recommendations further specify that infants should not have fruit juice at all during their first year, and toddlers should be limited to 4 ounces a day. AAP also recommends that juices be pasteurized to reduce the risk of E. coli, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. Issue 636
A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action against Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. alleging the burrito chain violated the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 by making material misrepresentations about the company’s response to food-borne illnesses linked to its stores. Ong v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 160141 (S.D.N.Y., order entered March 8, 2017). The court has granted the plaintiffs, led by Metzler Investment GmbH and Construction Laborers Pension Trust of Greater St. Louis, leave to amend. Chipotle’s stock price dropped in 2015 after outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, including norovirus, E. coli and Salmonella, were linked to its stores. As a result, Chipotle profits declined by 95 percent in 2016 as compared to the year before. The plaintiffs alleged that Chipotle and three of its executives misled shareholders and the public in the statements and reports it released about the outbreaks, although Chipotle predicted poor performance in…
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and its customers who consumed tainted food during outbreaks of E. Coli, Salmonella and norovirus have reportedly reached a settlement agreement. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed except for one class member’s request to receive vouchers for free burritos. One case in the litigation is still pending. See The Denver Post, September 9, 2016. Chipotle was also hit with an unrelated lawsuit in California alleging the company fired an employee for saying that her Latino coworkers received preferential treatment. The plaintiff argues that after a Latina woman was promoted to the district manager position, Latino employees began receiving more favorable day shifts while other employees received night shifts. When the plaintiff complained about the scheduling to a Latino manager, she was allegedly told that “black girls always have attitude.” See CBS Los Angeles, September 13, 2016. Issue 617
An Alberta court has reportedly approved a settlement agreement in a class action stemming from an E. coli outbreak that resulted in the recall of nearly 4 million pounds of beef in Canada and the United States, amounting to the largest meat recall in Canadian history. Harrison v. XL Foods Inc., No. 1203-14727 (Can. Alta. Q.B., order entered February 17, 2016). Under the settlement agreement, the class is open to consumers in Canada and the United States who either purchased XL Foods Inc.’s beef, thereby suffering an economic injury, or consumed it, causing them to contract an illness. Eligible class members can receive a full refund with proof of purchase or CAN $25 without. See CBC News, February 17, 2016. Issue 595
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that two E. coli outbreaks linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. “appear to be over,” but the agency has not identified a food source for the outbreaks. “The epidemiologic evidence collected during this investigation suggested that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants was a likely source of both outbreaks,” the agency said. “When a restaurant serves foods with several ingredients that are mixed or cooked together and then used in multiple menu items, it can be more difficult for epidemiologic studies to identity [sic] the specific ingredient that is contaminated.” Meanwhile, Chipotle faces a joint investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Justice into a 2015 norovirus outbreak in one of its California restaurants. The company has reportedly been served an additional subpoena requiring it to produce documents on company-wide…