Maine Woman Sues New Hampshire Company for Food Poisoning That Sickened Child

A woman from York County, Maine is suing a beef manufacturer headquartered in New Hampshire following an outbreak of E. coli that made her 9-year-old son so sick he had to be hospitalized. groundbeef

According to a report from SeaCoastOnline.com, plaintiff purchased the meat at a store in Kittery, and she prepared it for her son one day in June. Within five days, the boy began to experience a severe reaction that included vomiting, fever and diarrhea. These are typical symptoms of the food poisoning caused by an E. coli infection. The boy was rushed to a local hospital in York before being transferred for more intensive treatment at the Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.

The boy was one of more than a dozen people sickened by the outbreak tied to this particular farm, with other cases cropping up across Maine, as well as in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. It was ultimately the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety Inspection Service, alongside the Department of Health in New Hampshire, that traced the outbreak not just to this one farm but to a specific slaughter date. This prompted the farm to recall some 8,800 pounds of raw beef products that were deemed potentially contaminated. 

As our Maine food poisoning injury attorneys know, all food manufacturers owe a duty of care to their customers to protect against food-borne illnesses. That means ensuring safety guidelines and best industry practices are followed every single day and in ever single slaughter and processing batch. Although some might point out that this was a facility that had a solid track record of food safety, this incident shows that “pretty good” isn’t good enough for those in this industry.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that between 11 and 28 percent of people consume ground beef that is either raw or under-cooked, which poses a foodborne illness risk. The agency has tallied at least 75 outbreaks of foodborne illness involving beef products between 2009 and 2013. Of those cases, slightly more than one-third involved E. coli illness. About 25 percent involved salmonella poisoning.

E. coli is a type of pathogen that is usually associated with ground beef, causing nearly 100,000 illnesses, more than 3,000 hospitalizations and nearly three dozen deaths every year. Just in health care expenses, that’s $405 million annually. Consumption of contaminated food is the most common source (usually beef, but also leafy greens, dairy and poultry), with others including human contact with animals and person-to-person contact.

Most E. coli outbreaks tend to occur in July, and most often in cases where people were cooking it at home, rather than eating out. Young children are typically the most impacted group.

In this case, plaintiff is one of 14 people who were sickened in this outbreak. She is asserting strict products liability, breach of warranties and negligence in her Maine personal injury lawsuit. Specifically, she alleges the damages suffered were a direct and proximate result of the defective and unreasonably dangerous condition of the food product manufactured, distributed and sold by defendant. The fact that the food plaintiff purchased was unfit for human consumption indicates a breach of implied and express warranties, which would make defendant manufacturer liable for resulting injuries.

If you are the victim of a Maine food poisoning outbreak, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

York County woman files lawsuit over son’s E. coli sickness, Aug. 11, 2016, By Brian Early, Sea Coast Online

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