Sterigenics ordered to pay $363M over exposure to toxic gases

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Medical-sterilization company Sterigenics has been found liable by a Cook County, Illinois, jury for causing cancer in a Willowbrook resident.

The company was ordered to pay Sue Kamuda $363 million after she took the company to court and claimed that emissions from its now-shuttered plant gave her cancer.

Kamuda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007; a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found in 2018 that people in the surrounding area faced high cancer risks linked to Sterigenics. Investigations have exposed several allegations against the plant.

Sterigenics uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment and has been the subject of claims for years. Kamuda is said to be the first of 700 plaintiffs who blame the company for causing cancer with toxic emissions.

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Sterigenics denies any wrongdoing, stating that studies will show they were not responsible for the cancer in Willowbrook residents.

“We do not believe the jury verdict in this matter reflects the evidence presented in court,” the company said in a statement. “Sterigenics is evaluating the verdict and plans to challenge this decision through all appropriate process, including appeals. We will continue to vigorously defend against allegations about our ethylene oxide operations and emissions.”

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Chicago Business.

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