When You Need a Lawyer who Will Fight for You

Ethylene Oxide Exposure Lawyers

Representing Clients with Ethylene Oxide Cancer Lawsuits

Have you developed breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or leukemia after prolonged exposure to ethylene oxide from a facility in your community? If so, you may have a toxic tort claim against the polluter, and we can help.

Why Choose The Collins Law Firm for your Ethylene Oxide Cancer Case?

We are a leading environmental law firm that helped win a $408 million settlement for hundreds of clients suffering from cancer after years of exposure to ethylene oxide emissions from a Sterigenics sterilization facility in their community. Moreover, our environmental attorneys were part of the legal team that took the first Sterigenics case to trial and won a $363 million dollar judgement against the defendant and its parent company. That verdict was the highest ever in the state of Illinois for a single plaintiff and sent a warning to other companies that polluting the air with carcinogenic ethylene oxide emissions could be very costly.

We Can Help You Investigate a Possible Ethylene Oxide Cancer Lawsuit

Woman with her kids We are environmental, toxic tort attorneys. Our knowledgeable ethylene oxide exposure attorneys have been representing clients diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals for many years. Our decades of experience dealing with the complex science that is a part of these “toxic tort” cancer cases sets us apart from many of the other personal injury law firms involved with ethylene oxide lawsuits. These toxic tort lawsuits are not the typical injury cases that 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. That is why it is important to hire the right law firm to handle your claim. The ethylene oxide exposure lawyers at The Collins Law Firm will give you the edge you need in your case. Call us at (630) 527-1595 for a free evaluation of your ethylene oxide cancer claim.

What Happened in Willowbrook, IL?

In the summer of 2018, the residents of Willowbrook, IL who lived near a Sterigenics plant discovered--through an Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report entitled “Evaluation of Potential Health Impacts from Ethylene Oxide Emissions”--that the plant had been emitting a carcinogen—ethylene oxide—into the air in their community for years. The report also concluded that area residents exposed to this ethylene oxide for prolonged periods had elevated risks for contracting cancer, especially breast and blood cancers. The residents needed an experienced toxic tort lawyer to help them get justice, and they needed Sterigenics to be held accountable if the company had made them sick. So, they turned to the environmental attorneys at The Collins Law Firm because that is exactly what we do: we fight for neighborhoods and families who have been impacted by toxic chemicals and we make polluters take responsibility for the damage they have caused. We have years of experience fighting big polluters, the EPA, and the government– and winning.

Residents had an Elevated Cancer Risk Due to Ethylene Oxide Emissions

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Sterigenics plant has been emitting ethylene oxide into the surrounding community since at least 1995 and most likely longer. After the EPA tested air samples in the commercial and residential areas within a mile of the plant, the ATSDR determined that “an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility. These elevated risks present a public health hazard to these populations.” In fact, the ASTSDR estimated that Sterigenics’ ethylene oxide emissions were making nearby residents sixty-four times more likely to get cancer.

The Collins Law Firm Took Sterigenics to Court and Won

Beginning in 2018, Collins Law partner Shawn Collins and the firm joined with several other law firms to fight Sterigenics on behalf of more than 800 residents of the Willowbrook, IL, area who had contracted cancer after unknowingly breathing a carcinogen known as ethylene oxide (EtO) for many years.

The residents’ cases were consolidated into one mass litigation in Cook County (IL), In re Willowbrook Ethylene Oxide Litigation, Case No. 18 L 10475, before Judge Marguerite Quinn. In recognition of his 20 years of environmental litigation experience, Shawn was appointed a co-lead of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC).

Shawn took leading roles in all aspects of the litigation, co-conducting most of the depositions concerning defendants’ conduct; developing the Plaintiffs’ positions on scientific/medical causation; and co-leading Plaintiffs’ successful argument for punitive damages.

Shawn then served as co-counsel in the first trial, Kamuda, et al., v. Sterigenics U.S., LLC, et al., for Plaintiff Sue Kamuda, a breast cancer victim. Shawn examined several fact and expert witnesses; handled many oral arguments; and participated in all strategic decisions. On September 19, 2022, the jury returned Illinois’ largest-ever single plaintiff verdict against the defendants: $363 million. $325 million of the verdict (90%) was for punitive damages—an extraordinary condemnation of the defendants' horrible conduct.

We Negotiated a $408 Million Settlement for the Other Plaintiffs

The record-setting $363 million Kamuda verdict was the result of years of preparation by the plaintiff’s lawyers in the In re Willowbrook Ethylene Oxide Litigation. Shawn played a lead role in virtually every aspect of this preparation—for both Sue Kamuda’s case and all cases that would follow it—devoting his professional life to the case for the 4 years leading up to the Kamuda trial.

The size of the Kamuda verdict, combined with the trial court’s denial of the defendants’ post-trial motions attempting to overturn the verdict, together with the fact that Shawn and other PEC lawyers were preparing 800+ more cancer victims’ cases for trial after Kamuda, was plainly the driving force in the defendants’ willingness to engage in discussions aimed at settling all the cases in the litigation.

As one of three of the co-leads of the PEC, Shawn was a critical participant in those discussions. As a result of these negotiations, one of the defendants and its parent company agreed to settle with 878 of the litigation’s Plaintiffs for $408 million.

What Is Ethylene Oxide?

Ethylene oxide is a colorless, highly reactive gas that is sometimes used as a sterilizing agent for medical equipment. Sources of ethylene oxide emissions to the air include uncontrolled emissions or venting in industrial settings, such as the Sterigenics plant. Once in the air, ethylene oxide can enter your body when the air is breathed into your lungs. More importantly, 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 changed to “known to be a human carcinogen“. Finally, in 2016, the US EPA released a new assessment of ethylene oxide that concluded that it was 30 times more likely to cause cancer than previously believed.

Ethylene Oxide is Linked to Cancer and Other Health Effects

According to multiple federal agencies, there is convincing evidence in human scientific studies that ethylene oxide is linked to an increased risk of:

  • Breast cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Lymphomas

Other possible health effects from exposure:

  • Miscarriages
What Should You Do if You Have Been Exposed to Ethylene Oxide?

Law Book and Gavel If you work, live or used to live close to a sterilization facility or another plant that emits ethylene oxide and have been diagnosed with cancer, consult your doctor, and ask if your illness might have an environmental cause. Then talk to one of our experienced ethylene oxide exposure attorneys to see if you may have a lawsuit against the polluter responsible.

What Can You Recover in an Ethylene Oxide Cancer Lawsuit?

Victims who have been diagnosed with cancer because of toxic air pollution may be able to recover for damages. If your cancer or other illness is provably linked to ethylene oxide exposure in the scientific studies, you may be able to recover:

  • Loss of past and future wages
  • All medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of a loved one (in the event a loved one has passed away)
Get Help from an Experienced Ethylene Oxide Exposure Attorney

If you believe you have developed cancer because of prolonged exposure to ethylene oxide contamination and have questions about your health or legal options, please call one of the experienced environmental attorneys at The Collins Law Firm today at (630) 527-1595 to protect your rights. Or fill out our contact form, and let us help you fight back!

Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Blog - Ethylene Oxide

Click here for more information on our ethylene oxide blog.

Client Reviews
Shawn Collins is a very talented lawyer, as are all the attorneys on his team. I've known and worked with Shawn for more that 30 years. Not only is he a top notch technical litigator but his communication skills are second to none. If anyone I know is ever in need of an attorney, Shawn is my very first recommendation. He gives very solid advice that goes beyond the law. He is someone you can trust to tell you the truth so you are not lead astray in the complex legal world. You really can't find a better advocate. E.M.
We were incredibly satisfied with our experience with The Collins Law Firm. We worked closely with Ed Manzke and found that he had a personal touch and truly got to know us in addition to being knowledgeable and effective in his field. The caring and individual attitude helped us tremendously throughout the entire process and we always felt like our case was in safe hands. We would highly recommend The Collins Law Firm for both its stellar work and dedicated employees. M.A.
My father recommended The Collins Law Firm to me after watching Shawn Collins and Ed Manzke at trial representing Lisle residents against Lockformer. For years, he told us courtroom tales about Shawn and Ed, citing their incredible skill as trial lawyers and how they put the huge Lockformer legal team to shame. So when my son was the victim of a wrongful death, they were my first and only choice. I can't say enough to truly express how grateful I am to The Collin's Law Firm for all that they did for me and my family. This amazing team advocated for me in my darkest moments, surpassing my expectations in every way. I will be forever grateful to Shawn and Ed. K.D.
I have worked with Rob, Shawn and The Collins Law Firm team in connection with both complex business transactions and litigation over the past several years. Shawn is far and away the best business litigation attorney I have worked with. Rob has been our lead attorney on M&A and corporate restructures, and he has delivered each time, and on time. I would highly recommend Rob to get the deal done! W.D.
Rob has been our out-side General Counsel for ten years. As a business with a global presence, it is important that we have the very best legal representation. Rob and the team have guided us through litigation battles, negotiating and drafting our important business contracts, and advising us in our business strategies. He has a great team of lawyers working with him. M.F.