Last week, Governor Rauner finally joined the group of elected officials calling for the shutdown of the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook. Officials had pressured Rauner to take action to protect the community after weeks of public outcry following the recent release of a report about cancer causing emissions coming from the plant.

Bruce_rauner_cropped-thumb-356x519-106443-thumb-250x364-106444-205x300That report, written by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, detailed a three decades long contamination of the Willowbrook area with a toxic carcinogen, ethylene oxide, by Sterigenics. The authors of the report came to the conclusion–after evaluating ethylene oxide testing done near the facility last May–that the emissions from Sterigenics posed “a public health hazard” and an elevated cancer risk for the community. In fact, the report estimated the cancer risk of exposed residents in the area to be 64 times the EPA’s acceptable lifetime risk.

Understandably, residents, many of whom already had cancer or who had lost a family member to cancer, were outraged. How could this have happened and how could any elected official allow it to continue happening?

elderly-1461424_1920-thumb-350x233-90117-thumb-350x233-97162-300x200When you place your loved one in the care of trained staff at a nursing home, the last thing you think about is the possibility that your relative may succumb to a fatal infection. But that is what is happening around the country, as elderly patients in overcrowded nursing homes fall victim to severe infections–called sepsis–as a result of bedsores, according to an investigation by Kaiser Health News and The Chicago Tribune.

A federal report recently revealed that sepsis is the most common reason for transferring patients from a nursing home to a hospital, and death occurs much more often in sepsis cases than in hospitalizations for other reasons. Sadly, as many as 25,000 patients a year are transferred to hospitals suffering from sepsis, according to a report by a private health care data firm. And the statistics in Illinois are similarly bleak: every year about 6,000 nursing home residents are hospitalized for sepsis, and 1 in 5 pass away.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of a serious infection in the bloodstream that can develop in bedridden patients. These serious infections are often the result of bedsores–also called pressure sores–that go untreated in nursing homes. Fully 60% of nursing homes in Illinois have been cited for failing to properly treat bedsores. Elderly residents, who may be in fragile health already, can have difficulty recovering from sepsis, and that is why it is so deadly.

Willowbrook has been in the news recently because of a federal government report which revealed that Sterigenics has been contaminating the community with a carcinogen known as ethylene oxide for decades, resulting in a significantly elevated cancer risk for nearby residents. This situation reminds me of some similar cases I was involved in: the Lockformer lawsuits in Lisle, IL.

My name is Shawn Collins. I’m the lawyer whose firm–The Collins Law Firm in Naperville– represented a community of families in those cases. In three separate cases, we successfully won from the polluter (Lockformer, in Lisle) $27 million in property damage; a generous settlement (the precise amount remains confidential) for a young woman who had contracted cancer from exposure to the chemical; tens of millions more for a fund for future cancer victims; and a safe, clean water supply for hundreds of area families.

The saddest but most meaningful case was the one for the young cancer victim. Her illness is why we are right to take so seriously toxic contamination in our communities. We don’t want devastating illness to happen to anyone we love.

Are you looking for an experienced attorney for your Willowbrook, IL cancer case? The Collins Law Firm is now investigating toxic tort lawsuits for people living or working within 2 miles of the Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook, IL who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Collins Law Firm Can Help You Investigate a Possible Cancer Lawsuit

woman-3602245_1920-thumb-300x200-106626-thumb-300x200-106627-thumb-300x200-106632-300x200We are a trusted, environmental personal injury law firm, and we have been representing clients diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals for years. We are unique among personal injury firms, because we have decades of experience dealing with the complex science that is a part of these “toxic tort” cancer cases. These lawsuits are not typical personal injury cases, like the car crashes or slip and falls, which most personal injury firms handle. They are an environmental lawsuit and a personal injury case blended into one complex case and require the right kind of scientific experts and legal experience.

Hundreds of Willowbrook residents filled a standing-room-only meeting last night. They came to hear their government explain whether their health is in danger due to the ethylene oxide pollution that a local company, Sterigenics, has been belching into their neighborhood for the last 30 years.

Ethylene oxide is a nasty carcinogen. But the people of Willowbrook had no idea that such a chemical even existed, let alone that it had been in their neighborhood for decades. Until last week.

Sterigenics has known–probably since the 1980’s–that it was causing ethylene oxide pollution in Willowbrook. So did government, or at least it should have known. Its job was to know. Hard to say what is worse: the government knowing about the ethylene oxide pollution for many years and doing nothing to protect the people of Willowbrook, or the government not knowing anything about the problem until just now.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a new federal study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) – released just last week – that highlights a danger to Willowbrook residents who live near Sterigenics International, at 830 Midway Drive and 7775 S. Quincy St., in Willowbrook, IL. According to the report, the people living near this facility face a higher cancer risk from toxic air pollution than much of the rest of the country.

Why? Apparently, Sterigenics uses and stores a toxic gas called “ethylene oxide” to sterilize medical equipment, and has been releasing that cancer causing chemical into the air since at least 1995.

Ethylene oxide has been listed on the federal list of carcinogens as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” since 1985. In 2000, that listing was revised to “known to be a human carcinogen”. Finally, in 2016, the US EPA – after much delay – released a new assessment of the toxic gas that concluded that ethylene oxide was even more dangerous than originally thought.

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A few years back one of my daughters got her finger seriously mangled in a slammed door. The nail was loose and her finger was bleeding profusely. So, my wife rushed her to the immediate care center near our house. After waiting for a half hour, they were ushered in to see a doctor who wrapped our daughter’s finger in a gauze bandage and told my wife to call an orthopedic doctor. That was it.

The next day, fortunately, they were able to squeeze in to an orthopedic doctor’s schedule, who stitched our daughter’s nail back on, took an x-ray (the finger was fractured), and wrapped her finger up in gauze and vet tape. Not only was the visit to the urgent care clinic a waste of time and money, but it delayed any actual treatment for our very anxious daughter.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is what always happens at urgent care clinics, but it does raise the question: what should you do if your child gets injured in an accident this summer, the most busy trauma season of the year?

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 30% of birth injuries are preventable. Sadly, medical negligence is one of the leading causes of birth injuries in the United States. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), determined the following to be the most common types of birth injuries due to medical negligence:

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Brachial palsy injuries involve damage to the bundle of nerves responsible for moving the arms and hands (brachial plexus). The result of this damage can be mild and temporary, or severe and permanent (in about 10% of cases the damage is permanent). The most serious injuries can even cause complete paralysis. A common cause of brachial plexus injuries is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a baby’s shoulders are trapped in the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. If a doctor pulls too hard while attempting to deliver a baby who is stuck, the brachial plexus can be damaged. Brachial palsy injuries include Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy.

FireworksFourth of July typically means barbecues, picnics, parades and fireworks, but every year amateur fireworks do more than just entertain. According to the National Fire Protection Association, they cause thousands of serious injuries and fires every year. In fact, in recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of injuries serious enough to require a trip to the hospital, resulting in 12,900 emergency room visits in 2017 alone.

Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, scars, loss of vision, disfigurement and even death. In addition, fireworks related fires are responsible for an average of $43,000,000 in property loss annually, with many of these fires involving bottle rockets or other fireworks rockets. Even sparklers can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees or more.

Unfortunately, our personal injury attorneys at The Collins Law Firm see the results of the careless use of fireworks. We recently settled a case for a woman who suffered burns and a serious head injury when she was hit by a neighbor’s bottle rocket, an accident which could easily have been avoided.

Keep Motorcyclists-Safe.jpgNow that the warm, summer weather is here, more and more people are on the roads, taking a ride on their motorcycles. However, this enjoyable summer pastime is not without danger.

Because motorcycles are less stable and visible than cars or trucks, they are-unfortunately–more likely to be involved in a crash. And when motorcycles crash, riders are more likely to be injured or killed. In fact, the federal government estimates that per miles travelled, motorcycles are 29 times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than a car. According to the NHTSA, 5,286 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016 alone.

Because of their lack of protection, motorcyclists are also more likely to be severely injured in a crash. At The Collins Law Firm , we see first-hand the devastation that these motorcycle accidents can cause. We are currently representing a man who was seriously injured when his motorcycle was struck by a pickup truck. 

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