Sterigenics medical device sterilization company must paycancer survivor Susan Kamuda, who claimed emissions from her Illinois plant caused her illness, a jury in Cook County ruled.
“It’s a huge relief. What came after that didn’t really matter,” Kamuda said, referring to the jury’s verdict..
The case is the first of more than 700 lawsuits facing the company, according to to the Bloomberg Act. The company used ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, to sterilize medical equipment, and Kamuda’s lawsuit claims the Willowbrook, Ill.-based plant emitted the chemical for decades.
Kamuda’s costume alleged that Willowbrook residents had routinely inhaled the gas unknowingly and that Sterigenics had failed to inform them that it regularly released the carcinogen into the air. Kamuda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, some two decades after moving to Willowbrook.
At last week’s hearing, Kamuda testified under oath that he would have moved from Willowbrook if he had known the plant was releasing ethylene oxide into the air.
Kamuda told the jury that moving into her Willowbrook home in 1985 with her husband and three children was “probably the happiest day” of her life. She was unaware that Sterigenics had established its facility in the community at the same time, and she described her subsequent surprise after learning that the plant had been emitting a known toxin for years.
Kamuda’s son was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, according to.
Sterigenic to appeal
Sterigenics has maintained that there is no evidence that Kamuda’s cancer was related to his emissions. in a statement on Monday, the company said it is “evaluating the verdict and plans to challenge this decision through all appropriate processes, including appeals.”
Kamuda was the first plaintiff to go to trial. At a news conference, his lawyer, Patrick Salvi II, said the ruling “should set the tone.”
“There are a lot of victims out there. And we are ready to do this again and again if necessary,” said Salvi. “This was a step in the right direction.”