Jury awards cancer patient $363M

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- Monday's verdict represents a vindication not conscionable for plaintiff Susan Kamuda, but for each of those who unrecorded and enactment astir the now-shuttered Sterigenics plant.

And portion the institution has already said they program connected appealing the verdict against it, astatine slightest for now, radical successful Willowbrook are celebrating.

It's been a agelong 4 years for 70-year-old Kamuda. But connected Monday, the Willowbrook nonmigratory and crab subsister got what she was looking for and more: A blameworthy verdict and damages to the tune of $363 million. It is the highest assemblage verdict connected grounds for an idiosyncratic plaintiff successful the authorities of Illinois, and exceeded the $346 cardinal lawyers for Kamuda asked for successful closing arguments Thursday against Sterigenics, genitor institution Sotera Health and its firm predecessor Griffith Foods.

"Just proceeding the 'guilty, guilty, guilt,' I deliberation I conscionable unopen down aft that. It was what I wanted to hear," Kamuda said.

WATCH: Sterigenics plaintiff Sue Kamuda speaks aft assemblage rules successful her favor

It is each that this Willowbrook assemblage wanted to perceive arsenic well. It is estimated immoderate 20,000 radical unrecorded wrong a mile of the now-shuttered Sterigenics facility. The sterilization institution was closed successful 2019, months aft the EPA released a study showing that radical surviving wrong 1.5 miles of the works were 10 times much apt to make cancer. Several schools and 1 time attraction halfway are besides located nearby. Facing nationalist pressure, Sterigenics closed the works permanently.

"I'm truly gladsome that idiosyncratic was capable to get thing for their trouble," said Bob Connelly, a Willowbrook resident. "They were astir for rather a agelong clip knowing they weren't keeping the nationalist successful information and yet, they inactive stayed astir and lied."

Kamuda, who has lived wrong a 4th mile of the erstwhile works for implicit 40 years, developed bosom crab successful 2007. Just past year, her lad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His lawsuit is 1 of much than 700 others against Sterigenics that could perchance inactive spell to trial.

Kamuda had said she does not person immoderate past of crab successful her household and didn't cognize Sterigenics was releasing the chemical.

"We're talking astir crab causing, pregnancy-ending chemical. It is virtually a 'sterilant' that they were allowing radical to respire successful unnecessarily," said Attorney Patrick Salvi with Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.

During the trial, attorneys for Sterigenics challenged the subject successful the case, alleging that ethylene oxide, the chemic attorneys blasted for Kamuda's disease, wasn't emitted successful quantities precocious capable to beryllium harmful.

In absorption to the verdict, a spokesperson for Sterigenics said: "We bash not judge the assemblage verdict successful this substance reflects the grounds presented successful court. Sterigenics is evaluating the verdict and plans to situation this determination done each due process, including appeals. We volition proceed to vigorously support against allegations astir our ethylene oxide operations and emissions. We stay committed to our ngo of Safeguarding Global Health. As we person consistently done passim our history, we volition proceed to run successful compliance with applicable rules and regulations to guarantee the information of our employees, the communities successful which we run and patients astir the world."

If a colony isn't reached earlier then, October is erstwhile the adjacent lawsuit against Sterigenics is scheduled to spell to trial.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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