Sterigenics International Sued for Civil Battery, Negligence & Public Nuisance for Emissions of Cancer-Causing Toxin
Attorneys from Romanucci & Blandin, LLC and Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, representing Plaintiff Ryan Feeney – a 26-year-old who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma – filed a lawsuit today against Sterigenics International, a Willowbrook-based medical sterilization service provider, for civil battery, negligence and public nuisance for knowingly emitting a cancer-causing chemical, ethylene oxide.
The complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, states that Feeney has lived in close proximity of the Willowbrook-based Sterigenics facility for 22 years and attended Hinsdale South High School, which is within a one mile radius of Sterigenics. In 2010, Feeney was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Feeney was not aware he was at risk for cancer or that his cancer diagnosis was a result of Sterigenics’ emissions of ethylene oxide until after a confirming report was released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in August 2018.
“Neither the extent of Sterigenics’ ethylene oxide emissions nor the impact of those emissions on the health of those who live and work in the Willowbrook community was known by the general public until the ATSDR released their report on Aug. 21, and the Aug. 22, 2018 release of the EPA’s 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment,” said Antonio M. Romanucci, principal and partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC.
Since 1984, Sterigenics has been emitting the known carcinogen into the air from its facility located in Willowbrook, Ill. As a result, for the last 34 years, those who live and work in Willowbrook and the surrounding area have unknowingly been inhaling the carcinogen in the air they breathe on a regular basis, according to the complaint. Sterigenics never informed the residents of the Willowbrook community nor those who work nearby that it systematically emits ethylene oxide into the air, nor did Sterigenics warn them that they are routinely and continuously breathing in a known carcinogen, according to the complaint.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that Sterigenics alone is the cause of the Willowbrook census tract having the highest cancer risk in Illinois and the 19th highest in the United States. According to data from air samples taken by the EPA in 2018, the Willowbrook census tract has a cancer risk that is 64 times higher than the EPA’s acceptable limits and is in the 99.9th percentile in terms of cancer risk in the country. Only one facility in the entire country emits more ethylene oxide than the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook.
“The potential ramifications of this revelation are catastrophic – the EPA has reported that human exposure to ethylene oxide causes cancer, and numerous other serious health risks, such as DNA mutations and birth defects,” said Romanucci. “Ryan Feeney and others who live, work, or have children attending school in and around Willowbrook, including several with cancer or with relatives who have died of cancer, have retained our law firms to investigate the harmful effects of this toxic exposure. Our goal in filing this lawsuit is to hold Sterigenics accountable for their reckless negligence that resulted in the needless and continuous poisoning of men, women, and children.”
The EPA has classified ethylene oxide as a carcinogen that has the ability to damage DNA and create a high-risk to cause cancer. In December 2016, the EPA increased the cancer risk from adult-based inhalation of ethylene oxide by 30-fold, based on updated research. The implications of ethylene oxide are severe as more than 19,000 people live within one mile of the Sterigenics facility and countless others work and attend school in the area.
The Plaintiff is seeking a judgment against the Defendants, awarding compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Romanucci & Blandin has been rated as a leading civil trial practice law firm in Chicago concentering in catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, police misconduct, and bullying and hazing cases. 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 more than 16 years ago, Romanucci & Blandin has secured more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 458-1000.
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.