Starting in 1985, a company called Sterigenics began operating medical device sterilization operation in Willowbrook, Illinois. Ethylene oxide was the chemical used to sterilize the medical devices. Unbeknownst to the community, the ethylene oxide used by Sterigenics was emitted into the air for people to breathe. Ethylene oxide is a carcinogen.
In 2007, Sue K. was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sue had lived one-third of a mile away for 22 years. Her treatment consisted of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, which thankfully put her cancer into remission. Sue brought a lawsuit as a result of Sterigenics’ willful and wanton conduct in allowing a carcinogen into the neighborhood air, imposing a risk of cancer to anyone in the area. Also included in the lawsuit were the original parent company of Sterigenics, Griffith Laboratories (now Griffith Foods), and its current parent company, Sotera Health.
For closing argument: