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Lawsuit filed two years after McMinnville man fell ill with norovirus

PikeThe wife of an Oregon Department of Forestry employee who became sick after eating food catered by Maggie’s Buns is suing the homegrown Forest Grove restaurant for $2.92 million for the “wrongful death” of McMinnville resident Kevin Weeks.

Stacey Weeks vs. Buns Inc. was filed March 13, 2015, in Multnomah County Circuit Court, claiming product liability and negligence.

The lawsuit claims 43-year-old Kevin Weeks contracted norovirus during a business luncheon March 15, 2013, because the food provided by Maggie’s Buns was “defective and unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer, in that the food as prepared and delivered was contaminated with norovirus.”

Kevin Weeks “and several other attendees developed gastrointestinal illness due to ingesting norovirus contamination and as a direct and substantial result, he died four days later on March 19, 2013, all to his non-economic damage in the sum of $200,000.”

The suit claims further damages of $1,923.90 in funeral and burial services; $1.22 million in economic loss to his estate; and non-economic damages of $500,000 to Stacey Weeks, $500,000 to their adopted daughter, and $200,000 to his parents, all for the loss of his “society and companionship.”

In addition, the suit claims Maggie’s Buns was negligent in failing to “follow appropriate sanitation procedures for employees having contact with food” or “to protect prepared food from contamination from outside sources prior to being served to customers.”

“This whole thing is so sad,” said restaurant owner Maggie Pike, who again expressed her condolences to the Weeks family.

Her attorney, Mark Zipse, said it was inappropriate to publicly respond to the lawsuit’s claims at this point. “This is brand new litigation,” he said. “We would not like to have the matter tried in the newspapers. The truth will come out in the course of discovery.”

Pike said only that she believed “this was not caused by us.”

At the time of the incident, Paul Lewis, deputy health officer for Washington County, said it would be difficult or impossible to “definitively prove” how the food was contaminated and whether the contamination came from catering staff or fellow luncheon attendees.

Fruit salad, for example, “sits in a bowl and people serve themselves,” Lewis said. “People get this (norovirus) on their hand and it’s very contagious. If they didn’t wash after using a toilet, it’s possible.”

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