Pa. farm sued over illness linked to 'raw' milk

By Jon Campisi | Nov 8, 2012

A couple from Lancaster County is suing a Pennsylvania company that specializes in the

production and sale of unpasteurized milk, claiming the husband developed an infection after ingesting the product earlier this year.

Thomas R. Casteel and his wife, Melissa, filed suit on Nov. 1 against The Family Cow of Chambersburg over allegations that Thomas became sick from drinking the unpasteurized milk, which is more commonly referred to as “raw” milk, and can be legally sold in Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit, which was filed at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Philadelphia attorney Michael A. Ferrara, Jr., states that Casteel purchased a pint of The Family Cow Raw Milk from the Dairy Barn in Shrewsbury, Pa. back on Jan. 26 of this year.

Casteel, 45, drank about a half of the pint, after which he began suffering from abdominal pain accompanied by bouts of diarrhea.

About four days later, Casteel awoke from sleep shaking uncontrollably with chills while “lying in a pool of sweat that had soaked to his mattress,” the suit states.

On Jan. 31, the plaintiff began vomiting and having diarrhea while at work.

On Feb. 1, Casteel went to the York Hospital emergency room for treatment. He remained hospitalized for days.

An infectious disease specialist soon informed the plaintiff that he was suffering from something called Campylobacter colitis, which could be obtained by drinking unpasteurized milk.

Casteel was placed on medication and released from the hospital after about four days.

During his recovery, Casteel experienced rectal bleeding, which was ultimately determined to be related to hemorrhoids from diarrhea caused by the food poisoning, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit says when all was said and done, Casteel had to shuck out about $12,408.50 in medical expenses, and was required to use about 70 hours in sick leave.

The product liability complaint accuses the defendant of breach of warranty, negligence, and strict liability.

The complaint states that during the course of this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed about 80 cases of Campylobacter infections linked to raw milk consumption.

The suit also claims that the owners of The Family Cow conceded in comments posted to their website that products from their farm had indeed made people sick.

“The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiffs to manufacture and sell only food that was not adulterated, was fit for human consumption, was reasonably safe in construction, and was free of pathogenic viruses or other substances injurious to human health,” the complaint states. “The defendant breached this duty.”

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory damages for injuries, pain and suffering and other damages, together with interest, litigation costs and attorney’s fees.

There is also a loss of consortium claim in the lawsuit filed on behalf of the plaintiff’s wife.


The case ID number is 121004324.

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