Each year, one out of six Americans gets ill, 128,000 are hospitalized, and roughly 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. Chances are that those who survive avoid the food, restaurant, or brand that made them sick for the rest of their lives. Surprisingly, that is not the case for one woman who got dangerously ill after dining at Chipotle last year.
The 19-year-old Oregon woman was not about to let a little E. Coli get in the way of her love for burritos.
More than 500 people became ill last year during a chain of foodborne disease outbreaks in Chipotle restaurants across the country. Around 100 of those victims have reached financial settlements with the company to pay off hospital bills and other damages. One consumer, though, told her personal injury lawyer, Bill Marler, that she wanted more than cash. She wanted more Chipotle.
According to Marler, his client racked up about $40,000 in medical bills, but even while hospitalized with E. Coli, her love for Chipotle never wavered.
As part of her settlement, the restaurant chain agreed to send her about three dozen free burrito coupons.
“I’ve been doing food poisoning cases since 1993,” said Marler. “I have never had a client ask for that.”
The attorney said he was shocked by the request, and told Business Insider that the 19-year-old wasn’t his only client who couldn’t give up their favorite Mexican chain even after being hospitalized with a serious illness.
“More than just a few of them were pretty big fans of Chipotle,” he said. “In fact, a couple of them, during their case, told me they had gone back to Chipotle – which I thought was a little strange.”
Regardless of a few consumers’ unconditional love for their food, Chipotle has had a hard time bouncing back from the food poisoning epidemic. They still face a federal criminal investigation into their food-safety measures as well as a civil lawsuit over allegations that they misled their investors.