A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that Sterigenics brought against the state of Illinois for ordering it to shut down a medical device sterilization plant, saying the matter belongs in state court.
The Broadview Heights, Ohio-based company abruptly closed the plant in Willowbrook, Ill. Feb. 15 after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ordered the plant’s ethylene oxide (EO) storage containers sealed. The Illinois EPA acted after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that “an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility,” referencing a “30-fold increase in cancer potency.”
The plant sterilized thousands of devices daily, including ones used in heart surgery, knee implants, catheters, syringes, diabetes monitoring and care kits, surgical kits and other devices, according to the order by Judge Ruben Castillo. The closure forced medtech manufacturers large and small to seek sterilization services elsewhere and caused some short-term device shortages. The plant had been in operation since 1984.
Sterigenics argued that the plant’s EO emissions fell below state and federal EPA limits and that it wasn’t in violation of regulations when the state EPA ordered its EO containers sealed. It also claimed that the state violated its federal due process rights by ordering the containers sealed rather than pursuing a claim in state or federal court.
The state EPA argued that it had the right to deprive Sterigenics of its property without holding a hearing first because the plant’s emissions required swift action to protect public health. The state also said its seal order spelled out what Sterigenics could do to have the order lifted.
Castillo’s order said that although the remedies available to Sterigenics in state court aren’t ideal, the company can still pursue relief there.
“As the court noted, Sterigenics can file in state court and as the state is aware Sterigenics has filed that lawsuit this week,” the company said in an email to Medical Design & Outsourcing.