John Anthony Smith's suit doesn't state how badly he was burned by hot coffee at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Old Town Portland.
A man who was attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Old Town Portland when he claims he was burned by hot coffee from a defective dispenser filed a $10,000 lawsuit this week against the recovery group.
John Anthony Smith states in his suit that he was getting a cup of coffee from an urn when the coffee sloshed out and scalded him last Aug. 21. His suit seeks $1,081 in medical bills from Narcotics Anonymous as well as Central City Concern, where the suit says the meeting was held.
Central City Concern is a nonprofit that aims to help people affected by homelessness, poverty and addictions. It has offices at 232 N.W. Sixth Avenue.
A Central City Concern spokeswoman said Friday her organization allows Narcotics Anonymous to use its space and bring in its own food and beverage, as well as a coffee maker.
"Even though we didn't feel we were at fault, we did pay his medical bills, minus a $39 medical records fee," said Central City Concern spokeswoman Kathy Pape. "We just felt like it was the right thing to do. It was the compassionate thing to do, because he was injured."
Pape said her organization is perplexed about why Smith is still seeking payment of medical bills in his suit.
A volunteer who answered the phone at Portland's Narcotics Anonymous said no one was available to comment about the specifics of the case. But the volunteer said the coffee at the meetings is made for and paid for by volunteers, and that trying to get money out of Narcotics Anonymous would be "like trying to squeeze water from a rock."
The suit faults both organizations for allowing meeting participants to access the alleged "unreasonably dangerous" or "defective" coffee urn.
In addition to medical costs, Smith seeks up to $8,918 for pain and suffering.
Portland attorney Willard Merkel is representing Smith. The suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
— Aimee Green
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