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Family sues farmer; claims son sickened from E. coli in raw milk

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The family of a young child is suing a farmer whose raw milk food products were later traced to an outbreak of E. coli.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture investigated southern Minnesota dairy farmer Michael Hartmann and found he'd sold unpasteurized milk products that sickened more than a dozen people, most of them with E. coli.

In a complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, former Twin Cities resident Matthew Caldwell contends that his son Owen, age two, developed a potentially fatal kidney condition from the E. coli after consuming raw milk from Hartmann's dairy.

The Caldwell family lawsuit alleges Hartmann sold them milk that contained the bacterium. It claims that the toddler contracted Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome from E Coli poisoning, which nearly killed him.

According to the lawsuit, Owen Caldwell has been treated with kidney dialysis. The suit alleges the boy became ill as a result of the careless negligence of Hartmann and his employees. It seeks damages of more than $50,000, claiming medical costs of more than that amount, plus unspecified additional costs to treat the boy's injuries.  

"Owen,  became extremely sick and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and was very close to death," said Michael Hutchens, an attorney representing the Caldwells.

Hartmann, who farms near Gibbon, Minn., said he intends to contest the allegations in court.

The case is scheduled for trial the first week of November.