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First lawsuit filed over alleged norovirus at El Toro

Health officials say 423 people have said they got sick after eating at this El Toro location in Tacoma. Several other cases have also been reported from people who ate at an El Toro in University Place. (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. -- A woman who ate at an El Toro Restaurant in Tacoma and later became ill has sued the restaurant chain.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Heath Department briefly closed the El Toro Restaurants in Tacoma and in University Place after people who ate there complained of becoming ill. Health officials suspect norovirus and to date 434 people have reported becoming ill.

Ericka Cecchi of Tacoma ate at the Tacoma El Toro on Jan. 2 and became ill two days later, the lawsuit says. Among other symptoms, she suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. The lawsuit says lab results confirmed that she had norovirus and that she experienced symptoms for several days.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Pierce County Superior Court on behalf of Cecchi. It is the first filed against El Toro after customers began getting ill.

Ruben Arias Jr, executive manager of El Toro, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because his company has not been served with it. But he added, " I will say that lawsuit or no lawsuit, we empathize with all guests who were affected by this and plan on making things right for them."

The Health Department says the number of cases is slowing down.

Health officials say they don't know whether the outbreaks at the two restaurants are connected and that they may never know what affected item caused the outbreak.

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