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Firm News - Part 4

 August 2020 The Collins Law Firm Joins Other Plaintiffs' Law Firms in Filing 600 New Lawsuits Against Sterigenics

The Collins Law Firm has filed additional lawsuits against Sterigenics on behalf of 55 plaintiffs who believe their breast and blood cancers were caused by the company's toxic emissions. These new cases are in addition to the lawsuits we filed earlier on behalf of 26 similarly affected plaintiffs. Highlighting the scope and seriousness of the problem, our firm and the other law firms representing the victims of Sterigenics' ethylene oxide contamination, filed a total of more than 600 new lawsuits against the company responsible for emitting an airborne carcinogen into the community for decades. With the addition of these new cases, the total number of individual lawsuits pending against Sterigenics is now more than 700.

"We are firmly committed to securing justice for those whose lives have been forever changed by the egregious behavior of Sterigenics and the other defendants. Their sheer disregard for human lives is staggering, clearly and repeatedly choosing profits over people," said Shawn Collins of The Collins Law Firm.

For more news coverage of the filings click here and here.

July Top Jury Verdicts in Illinois in 2019

Congratulations to Shawn Collins, Edward Manzke, Robert Dawidiuk and John Risvold for their recognition for having two of the top jury verdicts in Illinois in 2019!

Shawn Collins and Robert Dawidiuk represented our client in a jury trial that resulted in a Three Million Dollar verdict in a claim alleging that our client's intellectual property was being infringed by a larger competitor. This verdict was one of the top 50 jury verdicts in Illinois for 2019.

In November, John Risvold and Edward Manzke tried a contentious slip and fall on ice case in Cook County. After a week trial, the jury awarded $186,486.00 resulting in a top 100 verdict in Illinois for 2019.

Personal Injury Results

The Firm recovered $175,000 for a client who sustained permanent scarring after a dog bite.

The Firm recovered $48,000 for a client who suffered anaphylaxis after consuming food that was not properly labeled to identify ingredients that were known allergens.

The Firm recovered the policy limits of two carriers for a client who was in separate accidents one month apart.Both matters were resolved pre-suit.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm successfully settled a business non-compete and unlawfully solicitation lawsuit, involving two nationally recognized real estate servicing entities.

The Firm worked with one of our banking clients in documenting and closing a $25,000,000 commercial participated loan. The out of state loan is participated amongst a group of strong lenders, including our banking client as lead.

The Firm won a complete dismissal of all claims against our client, a national security agency and shopping center management corporation. The unfounded claims sought money damages based upon purported discrimination at an Indiana shopping mall. The claims were unfounded and dismissed upon our filings.

June Personal Injury Results

The Firm recovered $275,000 for a client who tripped and fell at a senior living community. Our client sustained a broken shoulder. The case was settled pre-suit through mediation.

During the month of June, the Firm settled several automobile accident cases including: a client who sustained neck injuries after being rear ended by a young driver who claimed he wasn't paying attention; a client who sustained a chest wall injury after a rollover accident; a client who sustained neck, back and wrist injuries after being rear ended.

In total, for the first half of 2020, the Firm recovered over Three Million Dollars for our personal injury clients.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm successfully defended our client accused of investment fraud with a complete dismissal of all claims. The plaintiffs lost nearly 2 million dollars in investments, and filed suit against two defendants. The other defendant (not our client) was sentenced and is currently in federal prison. While the initial action brought against our client defendant seemed daunting, including a signed writing that our client was responsible to pay money to the plaintiffs involving the investment losses, all claims have been dismissed after a very hard-fought multi-year litigation, after the Firm filed for sanctions based upon the plaintiffs' abusive discovery tactics including allegations of hiding key documents.

COVID-19 - With the realty of COVID-19 new cases on the rise in many states, we have worked with our national and international clients in restructuring upcoming mass events in Nashville, Orlando, Paradise Valley, Miami, Denver, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Austin and Dallas. We are excited that business partners are uniformly working together in looking towards to the future building of relationships rather than engaging in business litigation.

The Firm has closed multiple large-scale real estate development loans during June. We are excited that developers continue to build during this time. And that confidence appears well-placed as the Firm also closed several commercial transactions during June, which is a continued indicator that the market is rebounding.

Environmental News

The Firm continues to represent clients who developed cancer due to ethylene oxide contamination at the Sterigenics plant. Shawn Collins is quoted in Grist:

Activists shut down these cancer-causing plants. COVID is bringing them back.

May Personal Injury Results

The Firm recovered the policy limits for a client who was intentionally struck and run over by another driver. The client sustained multiple injuries, including uterine and pelvic injuries that resulted in surgical intervention.

The Firm recovered $113,000 for a client who slipped on ice at her apartment complex's parking lot when the management company failed to properly remove the snow and ice after a snowfall. The client sustained a fractured ankle.

The Firm recovered the policy limits for a client who sustained back injuries as a result of another driver turning left in front of her, causing a collision.

The Firm recovered the policy limits in an underinsured motorist claim for a client who was sideswiped, sustaining a torn meniscus and rotator cuff tear.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm documented subscription financing for mid - eight figures for a new luxury apartment complex in Plainfield.

The Firm represented a national client for its non-competition and non-solicitation claims against a former executive, winning a favorable settlement lump sum payment in Wisconsin.

The Firm was pleased that our opponent's appeal in the Federal Third District Court of Appeals was dismissed on motion; thereby upholding the District Court's holding dismissing the underlying case which sought in excess of $10 Mil in damages against our client.

The Firm represented an international metal parts company against a supplier in a multi-state dispute, which was settled shortly after our firm's filing of aggressive counterclaims in DuPage County.

The Firm finalized a very successful settlement on behalf of international marble import company. This Uniform Commercial Code litigation was aggressively contested in a competing action brought in New York; however, our client's case was resolved shortly after the Firm filed an emergency TRO against our client's adversary in Illinois.

The Firm represented one of our real estate holding company clients in the sale of its Denver, Colorado business and leasing center.

The Firm represented a national equipment manufacturer and distributer in selling its Phoenix, Arizona franchise.

The Firm successfully settled a highly contested partnership dispute, representing the single owner against the other oppressing partners. The matter settled favorable to our client days before our Firm's motion for dissolution was to be presented to the Court.

Congratulations Law School Graduates!

We are very proud of our law clerks who recently graduated law school.

Katy Ebbesen graduated 7th in her class from Northern Illinois University College of Law, achieving the highest honors award, Summa Cum Laude. She was a Moot Court and Mock Trial semi-finalist, and won numerous awards during her time there, including awards for achieving the highest grade in Evidence, and the highest grade in Securities Regulation. Katy will be taking the Illinois bar exam in September and will join the firm full time this fall as an associate attorney.

April Personal Injury Results

During the month of April, the Firm recovered One Million Dollars for a child who was injured in a boating accident. The settlement was for the policy limits.

The Firm recovered a $275,000 arbitration award for a client who was hit by another driver in a head-on collision. Our client sustained a concussion and surgical repair of shoulder and elbow injuries.

The Firm recovered $100,000 on behalf of a client who was injured in a T-bone intersection accident and required surgical intervention for a rotator cuff tear.

The Firm recovered $125,000 for a client who was on a motorcycle when a truck turned left in front of him, causing a collision with multiple injuries.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm documented over Four Million Dollars in new capital funding for a national fitness organization.

During this stressful time, the Firm is working with our bank clients in providing help to both our local and national commercial borrowers. During the past two weeks alone, the Firm has worked to restructure and document over Forty Million Dollars in credit facilities on behalf of our bank clients.

The Firm obtained summary judgment including all attorney fees on a breach of a contract claim for $150,000 in Kane County.

The Firm closed on a factory sale in excess of Three Million Dollars on behalf of one of our clients located in downstate Illinois.

The Firm obtained summary judgment and collected all amounts due, including attorney fees, in an action against an out of state title company owing money to one of our local clients.

The Firm represented a national client in the sale/purchase of property located in Tennessee in a Two Million Dollar transaction, which successfully was closed despite during these very challenging times.

The Firm obtained judgment including attorney fees against a law firm owing funds pursuant to a note obligation on behalf of one of our out of state banks. The law firm vigorously contested the action claiming that the debt instrument was unenforceable against it.

March Community Involvement

During this most challenging of times, we must take care of each other. Our firm has chosen to donate to NEF's Kid Booster Crisis Fund so that the children and families in our community most impacted by sickness, school closings, and job loss during this pandemic will know that we are there for them. We at The Collins Law Firm respectfully ask and challenge others in our community to donate to the Kid Booster Crisis Fund, or to another agency giving relief to families impacted by Covid-19. To donate to NEF, please click Education Foundation

Collins Law Firm Partners Named as Leading Lawyers for 2020

Two of The Collins Law Firm's partners have been named as Illinois Leading Lawyers again in 2020. Shawn Collins has been named a Leading Lawyer in environmental law, class action/mass torts plaintiff law, and commercial litigation, and Robert Dawidiuk has been named a Leading Lawyer in commercial litigation, and banking & financial institutions law.

Leading Lawyer designation is received by less than 5% of lawyers in each state. Attorneys who receive this recognition have been recommended by their peers to be among the TOP LAWYERS in their areas of practice. Selection to Leading Lawyers is the result of a lengthy process that involves interviews and contact with thousands of lawyers. In one phase of the process, a survey is sent to all licensed lawyers in the state asking them the following question: "If a family member or friend needs legal help and you can't take the case, which lawyers would you recommend within your area of law or geographic region?" Only those lawyers who are most often recommended, and later approved by an advisory board of highly awarded lawyers, are chosen for recognition as Leading Lawyers.

The Collins Law Firm would like to congratulate these attorneys on their recognition.

February Personal Injury Results

During the month of February, the Firm recovered over $600,000 for its personal injury clients. Those cases include: a young woman injured in a motorcycle accident; a couple injured in a T-bone accident at an intersection; two pedestrians who were struck by a car as they were walking through a crosswalk; and a defective products case.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm won a complete dismissal with prejudice in defense of our national manufacturing client, sued under multiple alter ego and successor liability claims in Maryland.

The Firm successfully represented one its banking clients involving a troubled double-digit portfolio of rental properties. At its conclusion, the Firm was able to recover 100% of all amounts owed to the lender, including attorney fees.

The Firm represented a national client in the complex sale of one of its manufacturing facilities exceeding $20,000,000.

The Firm represented its IT client in a breach of contract action against a national defense company. We were able to recover 100% of all amounts owed under the contract.

The Firm settled a construction lawsuit for our client, a General Contractor, for construction work outside the state of Illinois.

Super Lawyers Recognition

The Firm is pleased to announce that four attorneys at the firm have once again been named to the Super Lawyers list.Shawn Collins, Edward Manzke, and John Sopuch have been named as 2020 Super Lawyers, and attorney John Risvold has been named a 2020 Rising Star. Only 5% of lawyers in Illinois are recognized by Super Lawyers for their professional achievement. We congratulate our attorneys on this recognition of their dedication and hard work:

Shawn Collins, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago Law School, represents environmental and business clients in complex litigation throughout Illinois and the country. His environmental cases, brought on behalf of families and communities fighting corporate polluters, have set precedents and helped The Collins Law Firm become a nationally recognized environmental litigation firm. He has been on the "Super Lawyers" list eleven times.

Edward Manzke represents personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death clients all over Illinois. He earned both his bachelor's degree and his law degree from the University of Illinois. Since becoming a lawyer in 1992, Ed has won verdicts and settlements for his clients totaling over $100 million. Ed has been selected as a "Super Lawyer" fourteen times since 2006.

John Risvold represents victims and families in Illinois in personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. John earned his bachelor's degree and his law degree from the University of Missouri, graduating from the law school with the prestigious Order of Barristers. He has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star four times.

John Sopuch III , a graduate of the University of Texas and Pepperdine Law School in California, serves Of Counsel at The Collins Law Firm and represents clients in business litigation and commercial dispute resolution. He has been a Super Lawyer since 2018.

Happy New Year From Collins Law

We wish all of you a Happy New Year and hope your outlook for 2020 is bright. As we look ahead to another busy and successful year, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you what we accomplished in 2019.

Our Environmental litigation team, led by Shawn Collins, recovered $34.5 million for our clients and was instrumental in protecting clients' homes against intrusion by toxic vapors.

Our Personal Injury team, led by Ed Manzke, recovered $3.65 million for our clients seriously injured in auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, or by medical errors and other negligent acts.

Our Business law division, led by Rob Dawidiuk, achieved the following:

  • $201.24 million in commercial litigation victories, including
    • $180.3 million in defense wins
    • $5.7 million in defense trial verdicts
    • $15.24 million in recoveries for commercial clients
  • $200 million in commercial real estate financing
  • $45 million in completed business transactions

As always, thank you for your support! We look forward to providing you with the best representation possible in 2020.

Lawsuit: Six Former Teachers Say Sterigenics Gave Them Cancer

Sterigenics knew for years that its emissions exceeded safe levels, but neglected to warn staff at nearby Hinsdale South High School, lawsuit claims

NAPERVILLE, Ill., Dec. 27 - Six former Hinsdale South High School teachers sued Sterigenics U.S. in Cook County Circuit Court today, alleging that their cancers were caused by exposure to highly toxic ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions from the company's Willowbrook, Ill. plant -- located less than a mile from the school.

EtO is a Group 1 human carcinogen, the World Health Organization's highest cancer-risk classification.

The lawsuit alleges that from 1984 through its recent closure in 2019, Sterigenics -- which sterilizes medical equipment and pharmaceuticals -- knew about the adverse health impacts from chronic EtO inhalation but failed to prevent emissions or warn the community about EtO risks. Instead, for 24 hours a day, Sterigenics saturated Willowbrook's air with the cancer-causing chemical -- forcing the carcinogen upon Willowbrook area residents and businesses.

"EtO is unsafe at any level," says Naperville environmental lawyer Shawn Collins, who represents the plaintiffs. "The carcinogenic effects of EtO have been widely known since the 1940s. Still, Sterigenics chose to operate its business and emit EtO in a densely populated area full of children, houses, parks, schools, and businesses. A plant as dangerous as this should never have been located in a residential community."

"Technologies to control EtO have been in use since the 1980s," adds Collins, "but Sterigenics operated for years in Willowbrook without using the best practices and controls to reduce its emissions. As a result, Willowbrook became one of the most toxic towns in America."

The plaintiffs, who all spent significant portions of their teaching careers at Hinsdale South were diagnosed with either breast cancer or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, two of the most common types of cancers resulting from EtO exposure.

  • Dr. Mary Margaret Eskey taught at Hinsdale South from 1978 to 1996. After she started suffering from fatigue, severe bone and body aches, and chronic infections, she was diagnosed in 2013 with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia);
  • Marguerite Vahldieck taught at Hinsdale South from 1982 until a breast-cancer diagnosis compelled her retirement in 2012. She endured a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, radiation, and anti-cancer meds for five years;
  • Carol Tufo, a counselor at Hinsdale South from 1981 to 2001, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, undergoing a biopsy, lumpectomy, lymph node dissection, eight rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions;
  • Jeanne Conrad-DeBroeck taught full time at Hinsdale South from 1979 until 1999 and then as a substitute teacher until 2011. After her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015, she had a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgeries, and radiation, as well as chemotherapy that caused permanent nerve damage in her legs;
  • Rose Keppler was a teacher at Hinsdale South from 1978 until 2009, and for much of that time also served as the director of the school's special services. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, undergoing a lumpectomy and radiation; and,
  • Carol Hanley taught at Hinsdale South from 1980 until 2002. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August. Carol underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and lymph nodes. She will start radiation treatment when she has healed from the surgery.

In August 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released its report, "Evaluation of Potential Health Impacts for Ethylene Oxide Emissions," documenting the public health impacts of Sterigenics' emissions on Willowbrook and revealing the area's staggering and disproportionate risks of cancer. In February 2019, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ordered Sterigenics' Willowbrook facility to discontinue EtO use. Although Sterigenics attempted to convince the public it could reduce EtO emissions, the company decided in September to permanently close the facility.

"Too many people have suffered from Sterigenics irresponsible use of EtO. Merely shuttering the Willowbrook facility is not enough," urges Collins. "The company needs to accept liability for the harm it caused and help the families devastated by cancer return to some semblance of normal lives."

Media coverage of the lawsuit:

Kendall County Motorcycle Crash Settlement

The Firm settled a contested motorcycle crash case pending in Kendall County for over $200,000. Our client suffered a fractured leg which required surgery. The lawsuit was settled for over double the defendant's initial settlement offer.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm won a motion for complete dismissal with prejudice in favor of our client involving real property of more than Sixty Million Dollars. The lawsuit was filed purporting to state claims on behalf of several international organizations claiming rights in the property and to stay a sale. The motion was granted dismissing all claims of the national and international plaintiffs.

The Firm won summary judgment on behalf of our out-of-state private lender on a 12 unit mixed-used building in Chicago. Our client was (falsely) accused of violating commercial lending laws, however, after contentious litigation and appeal, the court has entered final judgment on our motion in favor of the Firm's lending client on all issues.

The Firm won summary judgment in favor of our local bank client on a large-scale condominium conversion project. The Firm was able to secure the entire collateral first in receivership and then recover 100% of all bank loans plus all attorney fees for the Bank.

Shawn Collins' Op-Ed appeared in the Peoria Journal Star and The Southern Illinoisan

In the Op-Ed, Shawn talks about how the Illinois EPA's budget has been so slashed that the state has effectively left the citizens on their own to fight for clean air and water. The links to the Op-Ed are here:

Cook County Personal Injury Jury Verdict

A Cook County jury returned a six-figure verdict for our client who slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk at a shopping center plaza, breaking his ankle and requiring surgical intervention. The verdict amount was six times the original offer by the Defendant.

Business Litigation Results

The Firm successfully resolved a real estate litigation matter in the high six-figures following summary judgment filings. The lump-sum cash payment to our client was made following highly contentious litigation over the enforceability of the lease documents.

In extremely adverse shareholder litigation taking place in the United States and in Asia, the Firm was successful in litigating the rights of our client, a minority shareholder in the companies. The resulting settlement agreement following substantial litigation resulted in the Firm's client receiving his seven-figure buyout.

The Firm documented new commercial real estate development loans of $10,000,000 and $3,000,000, recognizing further economic growth to our local economy.

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.