Skip to content

Sterigenics settling suits for $408M

Sterigenics announced Monday that a claims administrator will be appointed to distribute the money to as many as 870 people who had sued the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company.

Associated Press
Associated Press
| 3 min read
Sterigenics settling suits for $408M

WILLOWBROOK, Ill. (AP) — The former operator of a suburban Chicago medical equipment cleaning plant has agreed to pay $408 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits alleging that the now-shuttered facility exposed residents to a toxic industrial gas and caused illnesses.

Sterigenics announced Monday that a claims administrator will be appointed to distribute the money to as many as 870 people who had sued the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company. The completion of the settlement agreements is expected to take 90 to 120 days, it said.

Sterigenics used toxic ethylene oxide gas to sterilize medical equipment, pharmaceutical drugs and spices at a facility in Willowbrook, a DuPage County village southwest of Chicago.

State authorities ordered the plant temporarily shut down in 2019 after air quality monitoring recorded spikes of ethylene oxide in surrounding neighborhoods. Sterigenics later permanently closed the facility.

The first lawsuits against Sterigenics and other companies tied to the Willowbrook plant were filed in 2018 after published research showed people living near the plant faced some of the nation’s highest cancer risks from toxic air pollution.

Under the agreement, Sterigenics will pay to settle the claims “subject to substantially all of the plaintiffs providing opt-in consents to their individual settlement allocations and dismissing their claims with prejudice,” Sotera Health, Sterigenics' parent company, said in a statement.

In September, a Cook County jury awarded $363 million to one plaintiff, a 70-year-old woman who alleged Sterigenics exposed her to ethylene oxide gas for 20 years and led to her cancer diagnosis.[1]

Sterigenics was ordered to pay $220 million in punitive damages to the woman, whose lawsuit was the first to go to trial. Sotera Health was directed to pay her $100 million and Griffith Foods, the current name of the plant’s original owner, $5 million. Jurors also awarded the woman $38 million in compensatory damages.

Sotera Health said in its statement that the planned settlements are “not to be construed as an admission of any liability or that emissions from the Willowbrook facilities ever posed any safety hazard to the surrounding communities."

The statement adds that while “Sterigenics maintains that its Willowbrook operations did not pose a safety risk to the community in which it operated," it was in its best interest to settle the lawsuits because significant time and cost would have been required to contest all of the cases.


Subscribe to the Chicago Journal


The Chicago Journal needs your support.

At just $20/year, your subscription not only helps us grow, it helps maintain our commitment to independent publishing.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

If you're already a subscriber and you'd like to send a tip to continue to support the Chicago Journal, which we would greatly appreciate, you can do so at the following link:

Send a tip to the Chicago Journal


Subscribe to the Chicago Journal

Notes & References


  1. Press, Associated. “Jury Awards Illinois Woman $363m in Suit over Plant's Gas.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, September 20, 2022. https://www.chicagojournal.com/jury-awards-illinois-woman-363m-in-suit-over-plants-gas/. ↩︎

Chicagoland NewsChicagoland BusinessNewsBusiness

Associated Press Twitter

News and content from The Associated Press, which has been covering the world's most important stories since 1846.


Related Posts

Fire causes $1.25m in damage at historic Illinois mansion

A fire at the historic Haley Mansion in Joliet caused $1.25 million in damage, authorities said.

Fire causes $1.25m in damage at historic Illinois mansion

Chicago announces best monikers in snowplow naming contest

Chicago city staff chose 50 finalists and the mayor's office received more than 80,000 votes. Staff ultimately chose seven winners.

Chicago announces best monikers in snowplow naming contest

Daughter charged after mom's body found in Chicago freezer

A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother's dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.

Daughter charged after mom's body found in Chicago freezer