Sotera Health Company has announced a $408 million settlement with plaintiffs alleging damages due to an accused ethylene oxide leak. This comes in the wake of two completed suits, one in favor of the company and the other resulting in a $363 million jury verdict for the plaintiff.
Ethylene oxide is a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment. It is also listed as a carcinogen by the National Institute of Health. In 2019, Sotera shut down its sterilization plant in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook; elevated ethylene oxide levels were detected nearby.
In their press release, Sotera said they believe they are well in the right and not culpable of any liability. However, they believe the well has been so poisoned by “biased media” that the years of ensuing litigation from the numerous cases filed are simply not worth it. Sotera says this settlement will allow them to “focus [their] full attention on operating the business, serving our customers and delivering on our mission of Safeguarding Global Health®”
However, Sotera states that they retain the right to not proceed with the settlement if “a) any of the plaintiffs who choose to opt out of the settlement meet certain specified criteria, b) the claims administrator determines that 40 or more plaintiffs do not have valid claims or c) more than five new lawsuits are filed by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are representing plaintiffs in pending lawsuits that are encompassed by the settlement.”
Plaintiffs have 30 days to review the settlement with their respective counsels and opt in. The escrow fund will be filled by May 1, 2023, and presumably payments will commence following that date.