‘Such a relief’: Susan Kamuda wins $363 million judgment against Sterigenics for exposing her to cancer-causing chemicals

CHICAGO (SCS) — A big verdict against a suburban business that CBS 2 investigators revealed years ago.

On Monday, a Cook County jury ordered Sterigencis to pay a woman $363 million for exposing her to cancer-causing chemicals.

Susan Kamuda sued Sterigenics, claiming the company knowingly released the poisonous ethylene oxide gas from its Willowbrook facility and did nothing to protect the public.

Kamuda developed breast cancer. Her son was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. Kamuda shared how she felt when she heard the verdict.

“Honestly the three best words I’ve ever heard,” Kamuda said. “Just such a relief. It really doesn’t matter what happened after that.”

Sterigencias maintained that there was no evidence that Kamuda’s cancer was linked to their shows. The company plans to appeal the verdict.

CBS 2 investigator Dave Savini has spent years digging into the company, uncovering documents and speaking with whistleblowers, what kind of impact does this first trial and verdict have on other cancer cases that have not yet been judged.

This mega verdict is good for future cases as the company was found to have engaged in deliberate and wanton conduct. There are still over 700 litigants lined up and awaiting their day in court.

There are people and families with illnesses or cases of death like matt haller‘s. Haller died of stomach cancer. There is also Heather Schumacher who battled Hodkins lymphoma. These cases have not yet been heard.

On Monday, Sue Kamuda was the first of all the plaintiffs to stand trial. She is a breast cancer survivor who has lived near the factory for three decades. A jury not only found that his cancer was linked to the ethylene oxide gas emitted by the plant, but also ruled that the company should be punished for all of its toxic emissions.

Most of that massive $363 million verdict was for punitive damages. A form of punishment against the company for its role here.

CBS2 investigators uncovered the stories of how former factory workers became whistleblowers, explaining how the company spewed more of this chemical into the air than ever reported to the EPA.

Sterigenics released a statement saying they would appeal the verdict. After Kamuda’s verdict, the long and tedious process of the appeal fight begins. But in the meantime, other cases will be tried in the coming months, such as the Heather Schumacher case. You can expect the same kind of lawsuit, and much of the same evidence against Sterigenics will be presented. Only the facts about the victims and their specific types of cancers will change.

Each time, a jury will have to decide fault and punitive damages and if this high verdict trend continues, it could eventually come to a point where a giant superfund is created to handle all of these cases.

On Monday, a jury in the case against Sterigenics and its role in the cancer of a Willowbrook woman acknowledged the responsibility of the company and grant him $363 million.

Kamuda testified under oath last week that she would have left Willowbrook had she known about the dangerous ethylene oxide being released from the Sterigenics factory. She fought back tears while on the stand, speaking of being diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer more than two decades after moving to her home in Willowbrook.

She also described her shock after learning that the plant near her home had been emitting a known toxin the whole time. Kamuda told the Daley Center courtroom jury that moving into her dream home with her husband and three children in Willowbrook in 1985 was “probably the happiest day” of her life.

But little did she know that the same year Sterigenics had also moved in, just a third of a mile from her home.

The Willowbrook plant used EO from 1985 until it was shut down by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in 2019.


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