Make no mistake about it. If exposed to environmental pollutants, you can bet your bottom dollar that dozens, if not more, people have also been revealed. Sadly, it may take several years before the ill effects of those pollutants cause any harm. However, when those illnesses and diseases start surfacing, countless cases will seek medical attention within a brief period. This is solid evidence that there was a single source, and that’s when the fight began. This is when you need to roll up your sleeves and prepare yourself for battle like the residents in the suburbs of Chicago are currently engaged in.

Mass Tort Claims Against Sterigenics

This is a prime example of how mass torts or class action lawsuits can quickly skyrocket. What began as 75 claims against Sterigenics in 2018 quickly grew to over 700 shares by 2020. The strange thing about this particular mass tort is the fact that it was the US Department of Health & Human Services that informed residents of several Chicago suburbs that there was a high risk of contracting cancer and falling prey to several birth and fertility issues due to an environmental pollutant emitted from the 

Willowbrook Sterigenics facility.

The substance in question is ethylene oxide, EtO, which spiked in the air around the Willowbrook medical supply sterilisation plant. EtO is known to cause such things as various cancers and then, as mentioned, problems with fertility, miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects. When levels spiked in neighbouring communities, the letter was sent out. By that time, several people had already succumbed to several cancers like leukaemia in which there was no family history. Once it was understood that the measurable toxic pollution levels in the air were dangerously high, some of these mysterious cancers and fertility issues became understood.

Not Everyone Will Be Notified of an Environmental Pollutant

This case is quite unlike most when a toxic substance is released into the environment. Sometimes chemicals filter down into the water table, and other times, they are released into the atmosphere, as was the case with EtO coming from Sterigenics. In this case, the EPA notified the US Department of Health & Human Services, so the ‘proof’ was already documented by reputable sources.

This will rarely be the case. Quite often, a series of unexplainable illnesses and deaths will come to light in a community. Sometimes they go unnoticed for years, but there are also times when there are sufficient cases of toxicity that residents or even physicians start taking notice of. It is often left up to those suffering the ill effects of exposure to begin researching the root cause.

Documentation Is an Absolute Must

Before levelling a lawsuit against a company, it is imperative to have documented proof that toxic substances are being released into the environment. Sometimes a mass tort attorney can recommend the experts to perform the necessary tests, but other times it’s something those affected will contract. They must be licensed professionals whose findings will be recognised in a court of law.

Don’t forget that the defendant will also hire experts seeking to disprove your claims. Hence, the best course of action is to hire professionals with a solid reputation whose findings will be difficult to dispute. This is also where the mass tort and class action attorneys can be a significant benefit, such as these lawyers who worked on the Sterigenics toxic pollution case. They handle these cases regularly, so they know which experts are well respected. You’ll need concrete proof that there are pollutants present.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Out.

We have seen over and over again how intimidated the average person can feel when up against a corporate giant, for instance. Sometimes that corporation is the leading employer in a community; if they are not afraid of losing their livelihood, they are so scared of making enemies in the community. Sadly, your closest friends can become your worst enemies if your actions cause them to lose their jobs.

As with Sterigenics, the factory was forced to close down because of public backlash, and many lost their jobs. This does not mean that they held enmity against those who spoke out. That isn’t known. However, it could have been the case and often is in other situations. While you don’t want to see your family, friends, and neighbours lose their source of income, you also know that you are suffering a disease or medical condition brought about by toxic pollutants released into the environment by the company in question.

Taking It a Step Further

One other thing you can do is to contact renowned environmental groups who would be willing to speak out about the issues you are facing. This way, the ‘news’ wouldn’t be coming from you but rather a known vocal environmental group that will gladly take up the cause.

These groups will often give interviews with the media, bringing the issue to the public’s attention. In this way, someone who may have unknowingly been impacted by the environmental pollutant might become aware of the need to seek medical attention. Sometimes they just didn’t equate various symptoms with toxic pollutants! You might even be doing your neighbours a favour.

Your Choice of Attorneys Matters

One final advice would be to vet your attorney to ensure they have expertise in this kind of lawsuit. Not all attorneys handle mass tort and class action lawsuits; you will need to know. Technically, any attorney ‘could’ handle your case, but if you want to win, expertise and experience matter.

As is the case with the legal team representing more than half of the plaintiffs in the Sterigenics mass tort suit, they have experience in this type of lawsuit and are best suited to handle such a case. Once you’ve found an attorney, they’ll advise you. That’s the key to winning your suit – a legal team you can rely on.