Minnesota Natural Health Legal Reform Project

Raw Milk in Court

One Man Against "The Man"

Yesterday's Hearing was just the latest move (or non-move) in a complicated "chess game" that will determine a lot about our rights as Americans. Any one attending might start flinching a little bit while singing the national anthem when we say "and the land of the free".

At least we saw that we are still living in the "home of the brave", I'm talking about those of us in the gallery looking at the silhouette of the lone farmer MIKE HARTMANN going up against the establishment ALL BY HIMSELF. It was a sight to bring tears to anyone who has tried to raise or produce healthy food for a too-oft ignorant public.

We saw the taunt-lipped and buttoned-down prosecuting attorney doing her job of rattling off a machine-gun list of charges, allegations, and "overwhelming evidence" that the child of the family she represents was "definitely" sickened by RAW MILK that had come from the Hartmann farm, that the specific serotype of the pathogenic E. coli was "identically-matched" in all 8 people made sick with samples from the Hartmann farm. Anyone listening to her extremely long oral deposition would have thought "well, Case Closed!". She concluded her testimony by making an attempt at what appeared to be a character assignation of the defendant, questioning Mikes integrity in saying he told us all that he "could not afford legal representation" and yet "he was able to spend $9000 recently to acquire a typed and written court record for the previous trial". ***How she acquired this non-public knowledge brings up many other questions in our minds.....***

Then it was Rocky Balboa, I mean Mike Hartmann's turn to speak. Mike was standing in as his own attorney as he is unable to afford representation in such a long, drawn-out, years-long case. In each and every segment of the allegations, Mike explained his position, primarily stating the following PROBLEMS with the allegations:

1) No scientific doctor has submitted a document stating that the E. coli samples matched.
The test results are murky and basically missing. He has never gotten written proof of this allegation of matching serotypes. MIKE WANTS TO SEE THE DOCUMENTS FROM A QUALIFIED SCIENTIST. He asks again and again "WHERE ARE THE TEST REPORTS?"

2) The history of what the sickened child had eaten prior to getting sick has varied. The parents at first told Mike directly that he had NOT drunk any of the milk, the original question was whether or not he could have gotten sick from the chicken, beef, eggs or cheese from the Hartmann farm, all of which he was said to have eaten. Perhaps no one will ever know what the child ate and what he did not eat.

3) Later the testimony of the parents changed and now they say he DID consume Hartmann raw milk. Oddly, as Mike pointed out, the parents who are both health professionals, he a chiropractor and she a "holistic nutritionist" tolerated bloody diarrhea and other symptoms in the child for THREE DAYS before seeking hospital care. This was never explained but stands out. The family has also moved to Seattle where they currently reside. They have not been present at any of the previous hearings nor were they present yesterday.

4) So, Mike wonders that since NO milk samples tested anywhere tested positive for pathogenic E. coli, why is it that the prosecutors are sure that it was the raw milk that caused the illness? Why not the chicken? The eggs? The beef? No answers.

5) The allegations claim that all 8 sick people showed fecal evidence of DNA that matched the DNA taken from the Hartmann farm. Since no "control samples" were taken from those that didn't get sick, this doesn't mean much. You will have DNA from the farm from which you will eat. (this was never brought up with regard to whether or not the sampling protocol was truly worthy of being called "Scientific".

6) Soon after the sicknesses were reported, the Hartmann farm was served with a search warrant and many samples were taken as well as all farm product which was seized and embargoed. Tests were conducted but no E. coli was found in any milk product. A month later another search warrant was served and the milk was tested BUT never for pathogens of any kind, merely tested to check for general cleanliness (total bacterial count and routine coliform count). The milk tested actually "better than Grade A" with only 13,000 bacteria (the cutoff is 20,000 and no coliforms, and the milk was tested for raw or pasteurized. Nothing else. A few months later another search warrant was served and the farm was evaluated and products seized but again NO testing for pathogens of any form.

7) The Hartmann farm has been deemed "unsanitary" in courtroom testimony but yet the Hartmanns have never been served with any form of legal order, fine, penalty or warrant that would define exactly what "unsanitary" really means. Mike says these terms are arbitrary and vague and no one can tell him exactly what needs to change. Again, he is producing CLEAN MILK. Mention was made of "there was manure on the gates" to which Mike pointed out to the lawyers that "this IS a barn".

8) Mike pointed out that every drop of milk passes directly from a washed udder, into a milker, then into a sanitary pipe directly into a glass collector, a filter and then into the bulk tank. In other words no open buckets, no air or barn contamination is possible.

9) The exotic and never-before-seen strain of E. Coli 0157 H7 that was collected from all 8 sick people as well as from some fecal samples from the farm has, to Mike's knowledge never been named, identified or explained. Where did it come from? Why did it show up here and absolutely no where else on earth?

10) And finally, why didn't anyone else get sick? There are 500 or more customers drinking milk and consuming other farm products from the Hartmann farm who did not get sick, nor have they gotten sick before in over a decade of milk-drinking. At the same time of the alleged illnesses, the Hartmanns served several hundred school children of the local school district and not a single person got sick. An urgent request was even made by the Hartmanns, given the coincidental sickenings, that anyone and everyone with a symptom should report it immediately. No one had a problem.

WHERE THIS IS HEADED- First of all, no one knows. The judge in this case had previously recommended that the two sides head for MEDIATION. A court-appointed mediator was selected, a person who will have total and final say of what action would be taken. It is assumed that the family of the previously sick but recovered child are seeking a financial settlement. Mediation is notorious (especially in difficult and unresolved cases) to suggest, "well, you are asking $100K, why don't you, the alleged guilty party, give them a partial payment and we'll call it even?" Efficient perhaps, but these common plea bargains carry the weight forever of "implied guilt" when money is given.

There have been two dates over the past few months when the two parties were supposed to meet with the mediator for mediation BUT, due to inadequate communication, neither event brought the two parties together (that caused this hearing to be necessary).

AT THE END, the judge, having heard the oral summaries from both sides, merely restated her position (Pontius Pilot washing his hands?) that "you guys need to get together for mediation and you need to do it soon.....ADJOURNED".

AND THAT WAS IT. You tell me what happened.....

Will Winter

Here is a message from Linda Schultz, who is Michael Hartmann's coordinator.  This is regarding a hearing in court on Friday, July 22, 2011.

Hello out there farm family members.....
Tuesday and Wednesday, and still this morning, Mike and Diane reported that Mike is due in court again. It was hoped that mediation meetings might make this unnecessary.  Consequently, the continued conversation with me and now a final determination that he will be in court tomorrow.
This case is being brought forward by the Caldwell family who had a son who was hospitalized in May 2010. This hearing is in Hennepin County Court, the opposition's goal of which is to achieve a "Summary Judgment."  This would mean that a decision would be made by the court based on information already presented and would prevent a "trial by jury."  A "trial by jury" would give our farmers the opportunity to present their side of the case more completely in the alleged illness of a child last year, theoretically,  as a result of consuming raw dairy foods from our farmers.  However, a Summary Judgment would have the end result that the court would simply determine how much money our farmers would have to pay.
You are encouraged, and yes, even urged, to support our farmers by attending this hearing.  Even though we would be a silent group of supporters, the impact made on the court by sheer numbers present can be the pivotal point.  I won't "preach a sermon" to our family.  You each know how critical this is and have experienced enough things over this past year to know how much our wonderful farm family needs us.
Even though this is very short notice, if you possibly can do so, would you take a little time on Friday to participate in this showing of support for our farmers.  This would show that we are a big "family" who enthusiastically consume and healthfully benefit from all these wonderful farm foods, specifically the raw dairy.
Hennepin County Government Center
Courtroom 757
300 South 6th Street
1:30 p.m. ~ Friday July 22
Parking is available in the immediate area, including the ramp at the Government Center.  Detailed information and directions are at the end of this email.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  It would be great to know who and how many of you plan to go.
With gratitude for each of you and your families....
 Hugs for each and all,

Linda Schultz, Coordinator
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Hennepin County Government Center
300 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55487

A-Level (downstairs) Auditorium, no security clearance required

The Hennepin County Government Center is located in downtown Minneapolis and is the central location for county offices and services. The Government Center is a 24 story granite building that spans over 6th Street South and covers the two blocks between 5th and 7th Streets and 3rd and 4th Avenues. The two towers (Administration and Courts) house many different departments. 

Directions from the West (via I-394):
Take interstate highway 394 east to the downtown 6th Street exit, and follow 6th Street to 3rd Avenue South. The Government Center is built over 6th Street ahead of you.

Directions from the East (via I-94): Take interstate highway 94 west to the 5th Street South exit and follow 5th Street toward downtown keeping to the left and proceeding around the Metrodome Stadium. When you are just about past the stadium at the intersection of 5th Street and Chicago Avenue/Kirby Puckett Drive, keep to the lane on the LEFT side of the median which will allow you to follow 5th Street on the LEFT side of the Light Rail tracks. Proceed in this lane to 4th Avenue South. Turn left on 4th Avenue South and you will see the Government Center on your right built over 6th Street.

Directions from the north (via alternate I-35W): take interstate highway 35W south, merge onto MN-280 via exit 23A heading south to Interstate I-94 west. Take the Interstate highway 94 west to the 5th Street exit, and follow 5th Street to 4th Avenue South. Turn left on 4th Avenue and go one block to 6th Street South. The Government Center is built over 6th Street on your right.

Directions from the South (via I-35W): Take interstate highway 35W north to the 5th Avenue South exit. Follow 5th Avenue to 7th Street South, turn left on 7th Street and go two blocks to 3rd Avenue South. Turn right on 3rd Avenue and go one block to 6th Street South. The Government Center is built over 6th Street on your right.

Parking is available in ramps, lots and meters near the Government Center. Maps and parking information can be found on the web site of the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association. There is a parking garage underneath the Government Center and the entrance is on 3rd Avenue. There are two parking ramps on the block next to the Government Center with entrances on 6th Street and on 5th Avenue. These ramps have skyway access to the Government Center.