Sterigenics, its mother or father corporate and a company predecessor must pay $363 million in damages for exposing a Willowbrook girl and hundreds of others to cancer-causing ethylene oxide pollutants, a Prepare dinner County jury determined Monday.
After a five-week trial and an afternoon of deliberations, the jury determined breast-cancer survivor Sue Kamuda must get $38 million from the corporations. Jurors imposed every other $325 million in punitive damages as punishment for many years of poisonous air pollutants that drifted into neighborhoods close to a former Willowbrook sterilization facility.
Sterigenics must pay $220 million, mother or father corporate Sotera Well being $100 million and Griffith Meals $5 million, the jury determined.
The decision exceeded the $346 million that Kamuda’s lawyer, Patrick Salvi II, had recommended the jury to evaluate all through his ultimate arguments.
Kamuda is the primary of greater than 700 folks looking for recompense from Sterigenics, an Oak Brook-based corporate that makes use of ethylene oxide to sterilize scientific tools.
Salvi and his colleagues accused the corporations of being extra excited by earnings than public well being.
Emails and company paperwork highlighted on a court docket display screen confirmed the corporations knew way back that ethylene oxide, or EtO, is terribly bad. However the corporations not on time putting in pollution-control apparatus and tried to undermine federal laws that will require pricey enhancements at sterilization amenities, the paperwork confirmed.
“They didn’t deal with EtO like a carcinogen, they handled it like an ATM,” Salvi stated.
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Sterigenics and Sotera stated in a observation they could enchantment the decision.
“We don’t imagine the jury verdict on this subject displays the proof introduced in court docket,” the corporations’ observation stated. “We can proceed to vigorously protect towards allegations about our ethylene oxide operations and emissions.”
Legal professionals for the corporations argued that Salvi introduced no evidence that Kamuda’s breast most cancers was once led to by way of publicity to ethylene oxide. In addition they introduced in industry-connected scientists who tried to influence the jury the Willowbrook facility by no means posed a risk to its neighbors.
The now-closed Willowbrook facility was once constructed within the early Eighties by way of the corporate now referred to as Griffith Meals. Sotera Well being absorbed Sterigenics after a chain of mergers, company restructurings and personal fairness offers.
After tracking ethylene oxide concentrations in and round Willowbrook for a number of months, the U.S. Environmental Coverage Company concluded that Sterigenics’ pollutants greater the danger of growing most cancers for folks residing so far as 25 miles clear of the sterilization facility. Different suburbs with the very best dangers incorporated Darien, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Indian Head Park and Western Springs.
Sterigenics closed the plant in 2019 underneath power from neighborhood teams, native officers, state lawmakers, participants of Congress and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who at one level that yr banned the corporate from the use of ethylene oxide.
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