News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Detroit resort sued after guest falls

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

A Portland couple is suing a Detroit hot spring resort for $1.2 million after serious injuries were suffered during an alleged slip-and-fall on an icy floor mat earlier this year.

Nicole and John Lewis filed suit June 3 in Marion County Circuit Court against Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center for an incident Feb. 22 while the plaintiffs were staying as guests.

Breitenbush advertises an off-the-grid wilderness resort experience with no access to cell service or guest internet on the grounds. It features outdoor hot spring pools of varying temperatures and sizes, in addition to other experiences and amenities.

The facility was destroyed during the 2020 wildfires and is currently rebuilding, with limited services and staffing available.

According to the lawsuit, Nicole Lewis stepped on a mat placed at the entrance to a hot spring pool and slipped, as the mat “had become iced over and unreasonably slippery.” While falling, Nicole Lewis attempted to stabilize herself on a step leading into the pool, but slipped on this surface as well and seriously broke her lower leg and ankle.

The suit claimed responding resort staff had no medical training and inadequate medical equipment, for instance stabilizing Nicole Lewis with towels and guest clothes rather than a stretcher. The suit said this lack of medical preparedness was concerning given the remote location of the resort.

And while departing the resort, plaintiffs were allegedly obligated to wait 20 minutes at a locked entrance gate after the code provided by staff failed to unlock the gate. Once they were assisted by another motorist, plaintiffs drove to Salem for medical attention, during which time Nicole Lewis endured “excruciating pain” on uneven country roads, said the suit.

Additionally, the suit said Nicole Lewis was unable to return to work for nine weeks, while her spousal relationship with John Lewis has suffered as well. The injuries also required multiple surgeries, including external metal rods stabilizing the ankle, and their impacts are expected to be permanent.

Plaintiffs are seeking $105,977 in medical costs, $7,880 in lost wages, $1 million for pain and suffering, and $150,000 for John Lewis’ for the loss of “love, affection, comfort, care and companionship of his wife.”

The suit said plaintiffs intend to add punitive damages at a later date. 

Plaintiffs are represented by Portland attorney Ryan Lee, of Wiles Michali Rana Lee Law Group.

As of press time, the court had no record of Breitenbush being served with notice of the suit.

This lawsuit comes as Breitenbush, like much of the Santiam Canyon, is rebuilding after the 2020 wildfires. According to the resort’s website, the facility was almost completely destroyed, including guest and staff housing and the hydroelectric plant that allowed them to operate off-grid.

Their off-grid infrastructure has since been restored and the property has been cleared of most hazards, allowing limited services to resume. But like many wildfire victims, they have encountered unexpectedly-high rebuilding costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and found themselves underinsured.

An estimated $2 million is needed to cover the gap between insurance payouts and actual construction costs, and the resort is seeking community donations. They hope to raise the sum by this October and have so far raised around $350,000.

Previous Article

Safety and health office offers resources on wildfire smoke

Next Article

City-wide cleanup is Saturday for Idanha and Detroit

You might be interested in …

Linn County waives $113K in permit fees

Linn County Communications Officer Linn County’s Planning and Building Department issued 309 total permits in October, Director Steve Wills told Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker at the commission’s Nov. 8 meeting. Wills […]

The Canyon Service Center in Mill City plans to start Saturday morning open houses April 15. James Day

Canyon Service Center plans Saturday events

The Canyon Service Center, formerly the Canyon Senior Center, plans to start Saturday morning “open house” events on April 15. The sessions will run from 9 to 11 a.m. at 844 S First Ave., Mill […]