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Toxic emissions lawsuits against Sterigenics skyrocket ten-fold from 75 cases to more than 700

Posted on: August 21st, 2020 by Romanucci & Blandin

Hundreds of new filings this week show the magnitude of injury caused by Ethylene Oxide emissions in Willowbrook, Illinois

CHICAGO, IL (August 21, 2020) –  Romanucci & Blandin, LLC and the other law firms representing the victims of toxic ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions in Willowbrook, Illinois, have filed more than 600 additional individual lawsuits this week for cancers, miscarriages and other health problems caused by the airborne carcinogen. While some of these new cases were grouped together, the newly-filed victims’ cases bring the current number of individual cases pending in Cook County, Illinois to more than 700.  The cases are filed on behalf of people who lived and worked near the Sterigenics medical sterilization facility, which permanently closed in Fall of 2019. Defendants in the lawsuits include Sterigenics U.S., LLC, Sotera Health, Griffith Foods, private equity firm GTCR, LLC, and two managers.

The cases, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, state Sterigenics and others are responsible for causing leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancers, various other cancers, miscarriages, and other medical conditions that severely changed or ended the lives of so many in that community. 

“This case is one of the largest and most significant pursuits of justice in the history of Illinois, and indicates the scope of misconduct by Sterigenics and the other defendants over the last three decades. It is heart wrenching to see the number of people and families whose lives were forever changed by the toxic emissions,” said Antonio M. Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin. 

All of the newly-filed cases and the lawsuits previously on file were amended to include brand new allegations that Sterigenics was not alone in operating its Willowbrook facility. Instead, its original parent company, now known as Griffith Foods, selected Willowbrook as the facility’s location, created Sterigenics as a spin-off to their company, and then continued in the active operation and management of the facility until at least 1999. The newest complaints also incorporate all the previous allegations against Sterigenics and its hedge fund backers, including how Sterigenics and parent company Sotera began funneling $1.3 billion of its assets to investors beginning in 2016. Those funds will no longer be available to provide justice to the victims in this case. 

And victims there are plenty. In one of the largest filings in recent memory in Illinois, more than 700 people now have individual claims for cancer, miscarriages, fertility complications, and other medical conditions arising from Sterigenics’ emissions of a chemical that numerous government agencies have confirmed for decades causes cancer in humans and animals. 

“The magnitude of the number of individual cases filed shows the devastating impact Sterigenics had on the Willowbrook community. But this is not about a large number of lawsuits, this is about individual people – each of whom has suffered physical, emotional and financial hardship and, in too many cases, even death. They each deserve to have justice served,” said Patrick Salvi, II of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.

“We are firmly committed to securing justice for those whose lives were forever changed by the egregious behavior of Sterigenics and the other defendants. Their sheer disregard for human lives is staggering, clearly and repeatedly choosing profits over people,” said Shawn Collins of The Collins Law Firm.

The initial approximately 75 plaintiffs’ cases are currently pending before the Honorable Judge Christopher E. Lawler in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Law Division. The additional 600-plus individual cases have been assigned various judges in the same division and await their initial hearings. 

For the initial approximately 75 filings, Antonio M. Romanucci is the court-appointed Lead Counsel for the legal group suing Sterigenics. Co-Lead Counsels were also appointed, including: Todd Smith of Smith LaCien, LLP; Patrick Salvi, II of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C.; and Steven Hart of Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC. Along with those four firms, the court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee includes Romanucci & Blandin, LLC; Smith LaCien LLP; Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, P.C.; Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC; Clifford Law Offices; Tomasik Kotin & Kasserman, LLC; The Collins Law Firm P.C.; and Miner Barnhill & Galland, P.C. 

Those firms along with Edelson, P.C.; Goldberg Weisman Cairo Injury Lawyers LLC; Power Rogers, LLP; Corboy & Demetrio; Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson, LLC; Nolan Law Group; Cavanagh Law Group; Motherway & Napleton, LLP; Wise Morrissey, LLC; Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC; Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz; and Dolan Law Offices are fighting to hold Sterigenics accountable for the misconduct that has resulted in the needless and continuous poisoning of men, women, and children in Illinois for so many years.

About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC

Romanucci & Blandin is rated as a leading civil trial practice law firm in Chicago concentrating in catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, police misconduct, civil rights and mass tort matters. The attorneys at the Chicago law firm represent individuals and their families in catastrophic personal injury matters, wrongful death and workers’ compensation cases. The cases that are referred to Romanucci & Blandin involve accidents or injuries which occurred due to negligence and carelessness on the part of individuals, governmental bodies and corporations of all sizes. Since its inception over 20 years ago, Romanucci & Blandin has secured more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients across the country. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 458-1000. 

About Smith LaCien, LLP

Smith LaCien LLP is a personal injury law firm, headquartered in Chicago Illinois. The firm concentrates in catastrophic injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases. Attorneys at the firm have a lengthy track record of achieving exceptional results for clients, with more than $2 billion in verdicts and settlements and some 100 cases with results of at least $1 million.

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C.      

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard was established by attorney Patrick Salvi in 1982. With offices in Chicago and Waukegan, the firm has 18 lawyers and is supported by more than 35 staff members. The firm represents clients in a variety of medical malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death cases. Salvi Law has recovered more than $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured clients, including more than 250 cases resulting in awards of $1 million or more. In 2017, the firm won the largest compensatory personal injury jury verdict in the state of Illinois, $148 million for a dancer paralyzed by a collapsed pedestrian shelter at O’Hare International Airport. The firm has been routinely listed as one of the top law firms in the state with the highest reported settlement totals in the Jury Verdict Reporter / Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s Settlement Survey. To contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, please call 312-372-1227 or visit www.salvilaw.com.

About Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge
Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge (“HME”) is a firm of trial lawyers specializing in mass tort and class action cases. The attorneys at HME practice on a nationwide basis in both federal and state courts and are actively involved in some of the largest and most significant mass tort and class action cases in the country. HME lawyers have particular expertise in toxic torts, carcinogen and environmental exposure, occupational and para-occupational exposure to toxins, and the fields of medical causation, oncology, and epidemiology. For more information about Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge please visit www.hmelegal.com or call (312) 955-0545.

About Clifford Law Offices

Clifford Law Offices, a Chicago-based boutique litigation firm, has emerged as a leader in obtaining substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of its clients since its inception 34 years ago.  The firm has established a national reputation, and is consistently named by the National Law Journal as one of the Top 10 Litigation Boutiques in the country, as well as topping the U.S. News/Best Lawyers in America list as among the best in several areas of law including Commercial Litigation; Bet-the-Company Litigation; Personal Injury Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation; Product Liability Litigation; and Qui Tam Law. The Chicago Lawyer has annually named Clifford Law Offices one of the city’s top firms in its Annual Settlement Survey.  Having obtained more than $3 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients in various areas of personal injury and wrongful death, in 2019, the firm achieved the highest combined annual settlement total in personal injury and commercial litigation of all Chicago area firms as reported by the Chicago Lawyer Annual Settlement Survey.  Lawyers at the firm, many of whom have obtained record-breaking awards for clients, have been recognized over the years for their hard work and the firm’s commitment to excellence, leading it to be named by the National Law Journal as one of the Top 10 Litigation Boutiques in the country, the Elite Trial Lawyers Award and the top 20 Plaintiff’s Hot List. The philosophy of Clifford Law Offices is based upon a dedication to protecting and preserving the dignity and rights of all individuals.  To find out more about the firm, go to www.CliffordLaw.com or call 312-899-9090.

About The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

The Collins Law Firm has built a nationwide reputation for fighting for the victims of environmental contamination. Based in Naperville, Illinois, the Collins Law Firm team of experienced trial lawyers takes the fight to corporations and works to help families by making their neighborhoods safe to live in again and getting them the compensation, they deserve. The Collins Law Firm attorneys have recovered more than $102 million in settlements and judgments related to environmental issues like vapor intrusion, groundwater contamination, and landfill and soil contamination. For more information about The Collins Law Firm, please visit www.collinslaw.com/Environmental- Litigation/, or call (630) 687-9838.   

About Tomasik Kotin Kasserman

Tomasik Kotin Kasserman cares about our clients. The attorneys at TKK have extensive experience working with victims of chemical exposure and are committed to not only achieving justice for those who have been harmed by corporations, but to enhancing public safety by improving policies, procedures, and regulations. While our record of success speaks for itself, our greatest satisfaction comes from seeing our clients reach a successful conclusion to their case that allows them to move past the damage that was done to them and their families. Find out more by giving us a call 312-605-8800 or visiting us at TKKlaw.com. TKK: Achieving Justice, Enhancing Safety.   

About Miner, Barnhill & Galland

Founded in 1971, MBG represents a broad range of individual, government, non-profit and corporate clients with offices in Chicago, Ill., and Madison, Wis. The firm is nationally known for its class action practice in civil rights, employment rights, voting rights, predatory lending, and more, as well as for complex litigation against government fraud. Its growing environmental practice includes individual and organizational representations, regulatory enforcement, and private law claims to protect the environment, people and their property from corporate polluters. Distinguished MBG alumni include a MacArthur Foundation fellow, several law professors at leading American universities, and President Barack Obama. For more information, visit www.LawMBG.com.

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