San Diego's Brigantine Restaurant Group Hit With Second Lawsuit Following E.Coli Outbreak

October 29, 2023

A second lawsuit has been filed against San Diego's Brigantine Restaurant Group following 20 confirmed or probable cases of E. coli linked to one location of Miguel's Cocina restaurant.

The second lawsuit against Brigantine, announced Friday, was filed on behalf of Denis Bisson, a San Diego resident who alleges he became ill after eating at Miguel's Cocina in 4S Ranch.

"The nature of this outbreak is disturbing," said attorney Ron Simon. "While some of our clients ate chips and guacamole, others, like Mr. Bisson, developed E. coli after eating mushroom, chicken, and shrimp fajitas. In addition, the victims ate there over the course of 12 days, and that means there was a serious, endemic problem for a prolonged period of time. The victims were being exposed to a serious pathogen for a much longer period of time than in most restaurant-based outbreaks."

At least 20 such cases have been linked to Miguel's Cocina, located on Craftsman Way in 4S Ranch, county officials said. The ill people or their families reported eating at the restaurant from October 6-18 and had symptoms from October 13-19. Seven of those cases led to hospitalization with at least one person developing the more severe complication of the infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to a county statement.

The first complaint was filed last Thursday on behalf of a woman who was purportedly sickened after eating at the restaurant. According to that complaint, the people who have come down with symptoms include a 14-year-old boy who is "fighting for his life." The woman who filed Thursday's lawsuit ate at Miguel's on October 12, the complaint states.

The first complainant ate chips, rice, guacamole and drank iced tea, then a few days later began suffering from "extreme abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea, and noticed a significant amount of blood in her stool," leading her to seek medical treatment on October 17. Doctors later diagnosed her with Shiga Toxin producing E. coli, according to the complaint, which states she's since been discharged from the hospital but continues to experience some symptoms.

According to county officials, the specific food items that were sources of the E. coli bacteria are under investigation and the restaurant is cooperating with the county. Restaurant management voluntarily decided to close the eatery when news first broke on Tuesday morning, October 24, until the source can be identified, the county's Health and Human Services Agency said.

"People who visited the restaurant and are feeling ill should see their doctor as soon as possible," explained San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. "We want them to get tested and have the results sent to the local health department. Those most at risk from infection are children, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems."

Miguel's Cocina is a restaurant brand owned and operated by Brigantine Inc., which got its start in San Diego in 1969 when Mike Morton Sr. and family opened the first location of the surf & turf centric Brigantine restaurant on Shelter Island (in the space where a Miguel's is now). Brigantine Incorporated now employs more than 1,200 San Diegans and operates more than 15 restaurants in San Diego County, including Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar restaurants, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Brewing, and Top Sail restaurant in downtown San Diego.

County health officials said most people with a Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria, but illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms vary from person-to-person and often include severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea and vomiting. While most people's conditions improve within five to seven days, infections can range in severity from mild to life threatening.

"The public is asked to contact your health care provider if you have experienced these symptoms on or after Oct. 6, and especially if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102 degrees, or blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine," a county statement read.