The firm will settle lawsuits filed by people who claimed that they or their family members fell ill due to exposure to ethylene oxide from one of its facilities


The Willowbrook facility of Sotera Health and Sterigenics was closed in 2019 after the alleged detection of elevated ethylene oxide levels. (Credit: David Mark from Pixabay)

Sotera Health and its subsidiary Sterigenics have agreed to pay $408m to settle more than 870 pending ethylene oxide (EO) lawsuits filed by people in Illinois, US.

The cases were filed by people who claimed that they or their family members fell sick due to exposure to ethylene oxide from one of the company’s facilities, reported Reuters. Ethylene oxide is a chemical used for sterilising medical devices.

The ethylene oxide cases were filed against Sterigenics in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

According to the agreements, Sterigenics will pay to resolve the claims, provided that nearly all of the plaintiffs provide their individual settlement allocations opt-in consent and have their claims dismissed with prejudice.

It is anticipated that the administration and conclusion of the settlement agreements will take between 90 and 120 days, subject to approval by both courts.

Sotera Health and its Sterigenics unit, which owned the now-closed Willowbrook facility, said that the settlement decision should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt. They rejected the claims that the facility posed any safety risk.

The settlement move as per Sotera Health is intended to avoid the time and expense of protracted litigation.

Sotera Health stated: “The agreements provide a pathway to comprehensively resolve the claims pending against Sterigenics and Sotera Health LLC in Illinois and thereby enable the Company to focus its full attention on operating the business, serving our customers and delivering on our mission of Safeguarding Global Health.”

Sterigenics offers third-party sterilisation services to medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical, commercial, advanced applications, and food industries.

Sotera Health added: “As we have done consistently throughout our history, we will continue to operate our facilities in compliance with applicable rules and regulations and best industry practices to ensure the safety of our employees, the communities in which we operate and patients around the world.”