It’s been a terrible week of news for Chipotle. Not only were mice caught on video dropping from the ceiling of a Dallas restaurant, but a norovirus outbreak at a restaurant in Virginia may have sickened over 100 people. Now Chipotle is getting sued by its own shareholders for allegedly misleading investors into thinking its food-safety issues were in the past.
Chipotle stock has fallen more than 10 percent this week after news of the mice incident and the Virginia norovirus outbreak came out. Now, according to Fox 31, a class-action lawsuit by Chipotle shareholders accuses the chain of misleading investors into thinking the company’s food-safety issues had been solved after E. coli and norovirus outbreaks sickened more than 60 people at Chipotle restaurants in 12 states in 2015.
A Virginia Chipotle restaurant was temporarily closed recently after 13 people reported getting sick after eating there between July 14 and July 16. The customers’ symptoms were consistent with norovirus, which is the same extremely contagious foodborne illness that closed a Boston Chipotle restaurant in 2015. Two customers from the Virginia Chipotle tested positive for norovirus, so that’s almost certainly the cause of the illness. According to The Wall Street Journal, more customers have reported getting sick since the news came out. Now more than 100 people are claiming to have been affected.
The plaintiffs in Chipotle’s latest shareholder lawsuit allege that the most recent incidents with the mice and the norovirus outbreak prove that Chipotle’s food-safety issues are an ongoing problem.The shareholders say they would not have purchased or held Chipotle stock after the 2015 incidents, but the chain’s assurances made them think there would be no food-safety concerns going forward.
This is not the first time Chipotle has been sued by its own investors. In January 2016, shareholders sued the chain for failing to disclose food safety records about poor quality control after the 2015 E. coli outbreak.