PORTLAND, Maine – The family of a 9-year-old boy who was sickened by eating ground beef tainted by E. coli O157:H7 filed a lawsuit against North Haverhill, New Hampshire-based PT Farm LLC whose products were linked to an outbreak of E. coli illnesses.

Sarah Monks of York County, Maine, bought the ground beef at a grocery storeil in Kittering, Maine. She fed the meat to her son, who became ill a few days later. The lawsuit states the child became so sick he was hospitalized. The New Hampshire Dept. of Health and Human Resources reported 14 cases of illness caused by E. coli associated with tainted ground beef. Five individuals, including the son of Monks, were hospitalized.

A traceback investigation by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) linked the illnesses to ground beef produced by PT Farm. The processor recalled 8,800 lbs. of raw ground beef.

“We are grateful that the USDA quickly investigated this situation and took swift action to help us protect the health of the people who may have purchased this ground beef,” Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of public health at DHHS, said in a statement released in July. “While the source of this outbreak has been identified, it is still important that consumers always avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant. E. coli can be a very serious illness especially for young children and people with compromised immune systems. We will continue to monitor for cases related to this recall.”

E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Most people recover within five to seven days. However, very young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening complication.

A local attorney from Portland, Maine and food safety attorney William Marler are representing the family in this lawsuit.