A Clark County deputy's lawsuit against Burger King over a spit-covered hamburger will go forward.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edward Bylsma Thursday.
Early one morning in March 2009, Bylsma said he went to a Burger King restaurant on Northeast Gher Road in Vancouver and ordered a Whopper. He described in the initial lawsuit getting an uneasy feeling about two of the employees.
He said he checked his hamburger and found it had been spit on. DNA testing matched the saliva to one of the employees, Gary Herb, who was eventually found guilty of third-degree assault and ordered to be tested for hepatitis and other communicable diseases.
The worker who served the burger was not charged with a crime.
Burger King Corp. and Kaizen Restaurants in Beaverton, which operates the restaurant in question, said at the time they have "zero tolerance" for the actions taken by the former employees.
The workers in question were ultimately fired over the incident.
Bylsma filed a lawsuit citing emotional distress against Burger King and Kaizen Restaurants. In court documents, he said he suffers from ongoing emotional distress that includes vomiting, nausea, food aversion and sleeplessness.
The U.S. District Court in Portland threw the case out, but Bylsma appealed and Washington's high court ruled in his favor.
The justices voted 6-3 on the issue.
The conclusion states a person can claim "relief for emotional distress damages, in the absence of physical injury, caused to the direct purchaser by being served and touching, but not consuming, a contaminated food product."
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