An attorney has filed a claim against Big Moose Inn on Millinocket Lake on behalf of a woman who died from a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home linked to an August wedding reception held at the venue.
Timothy Kenlan of Lewiston-based Berman & Simmons is representing the estate of 82-year-old Mary Hughgill, a former resident of the Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison. Kenlan said Hughgill died on Sept. 3 from COVID-19 after an outbreak linked to the wedding and reception spread to the nursing home, the Portland Press Herald reported.
The claim alleges that Hughgill’s death occurred because of Big Moose Inn’s negligence.
A now-infamous wedding and reception in the Katahdin region — in which guests did not follow state health protocols on face coverings and social distancing — sparked outbreaks that infected at least 180 people and caused at least eight deaths. Of those, 15 staff members and 25 residents at Maplecrest were infected and seven residents died from the virus.
It’s the largest coronavirus outbreak in Maine to date.
State health inspectors found that Maplecrest’s failure to follow federal guidance on COVID-19 screening for employees had contributed to the facility’s outbreak.
A state inspector who visited the facility after the outbreak began found that it allowed a staff member to work a 10-hour shift on Aug. 11 after she reported symptoms of the virus — including a sore throat, cough and chills — in a visitor screening log. While the facility required employees with two or more symptoms to leave work, the employee did not tell her supervisor about her symptoms, and management didn’t check the log.
That employee later tested positive for COVID-19, the first case in the outbreak.
State health officials have said that the virus spread to Maplecrest after an employee caught it from a child who attended the Aug. 7 wedding.
Besides the Maplecrest outbreak, the wedding reception was also linked to an outbreak at York County Jail in Alfred, more than 200 miles from the reception site.
Kenlan said he intends to investigate Maplecrest, but no claim has been filed against the facility, according to the Press Herald.
Paul Brown of Rudman Winchell, which is representing Big Moose Inn, said he did not believe COVID-19 was spread at the inn. He told the Press Herald transmission might have occurred at the Aug. 7 wedding ceremony in East Millinocket or wedding events that happened before the reception.
Correction: The headline on a previous version of this article misstated the Big Moose Inn’s location. A previous version of the article also misstated the date of the wedding reception.