WILLOWBROOK, Ill. — A settlement is reached with Sterigenics and residents in the southwest suburbs following claims that emissions from an area plant led to cancer.

Sterigenics’ parent company, Sotera Health, agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle 870 lawsuits from neighbors near the former Willowbrook facility. The ruling comes after last year’s $363 million jury verdict with cancer survivor Sue Kamuda.

The lawsuits accused Sterigenics of knowingly exposing the public to cancer-causing chemicals for decades. A US Environmental Protection Agency report pointed to the likelihood that the Willowbrook plant was responsible for sizeable cancer clusters, with cases sprouting up near and around the facility located off Interstate 55 and Kingery Highway.

The Willowbrook facility used ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment and other goods. It was closed by the state in 2019. 

The settlement calls for the establishment of a program to compensate those who filed Sterigenics lawsuits, according to a written statement from Salvi, Schostok and Pritchard, who represented nearly 250 of the Sterigencis plaintiffs.

In a statement, Sotera Health, in part, health denied any liability:

The agreements provide a pathway to comprehensively resolve the claims pending against
Sterigenics and Sotera Health LLC in Illinois and thereby enable the Company to focus it full
attention on operating the business, serving our customers and delivering on our mission of
Safeguarding Global Health®. Sterigenics maintains that its Willowbrook operations did not pose a safety risk to the community in which it operated and believes the evidence and science ultimately would have compelled the rejection of the plaintiffs’ claims, as occurred in the Teresa Fornek trial. However, years of biased media coverage in the greater Chicago area, the significant costs of posting a large bond in support of the appeal of the Kamuda verdict and the time and expense that would have been required to continue to contest hundreds of additional lawsuits through a multiyear process in the Illinois court system led us to conclude that resolving the pending Willowbrook EO cases would be in the best interest of the Company and its stakeholders. As we have done consistently throughout our history, we will continue to operate our facilities in compliance with applicable rules and regulations and best industry practices to ensure the safety of our employees, the communities in which we operate and patients around the world.”

The administration and completion of the settlement agreements are expected to take up to four months.