A Cook County jury ruled in favor of Sterigenics, concluding that the Oak Brook-based medical-sterilization company should not take any responsibility for cancer in a woman who lived near the company’s plant in suburban Willowbrook.
The trial in Cook County Circuit Court concluded Friday with the jury determining that Sterigenics does not owe plaintiff Teresa Fornek any compensatory or punitive damages. However, Fornek has the right to contest the ruling through motions and appeals. She first filed the suit in 2018.
“We believe the jury’s verdict in this matter reflects the jury’s careful consideration and understanding of the science and other evidence presented at trial. Sterigenics remains committed to our mission of Safeguarding Global Health,” Sterigenics said in a statement. “As we have done consistently throughout our history, we will continue to operate in compliance with applicable rules and regulations to ensure the safety of our employees, the communities in which we operate and patients around the world.”
Fornek’s is the second case brought against Sterigenics that has concluded. More than 700 cases are still pending against the company, many of which came about after a study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018 found that people in the surrounding area faced high cancer risks linked to Sterigenics.
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By contrast, in September, a different jury found Sterigenics liable for causing cancer in another Willowbrook resident, Sue Kamuda, and ordered the company to pay her $363 million.
A subsidiary of Ohio-based Sotera Health, Sterigenics uses a chemical known as ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment. The Willowbrook plant closed in September 2019.
Sotera’s stock price surged on the day the latest verdict was revealed. Shares are up 20% over the past five days.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Chicago Business.