Sotera Health Company’s (SHC) EtO Processing Emitted Massive Toxins and Caused Cancer in People Living in the Communities Near its Facilities
Robbins LLP is investigating Sotera Health Company (NASDAQ: SHC) to determine whether certain officers and directors violated securities laws and breached fiduciary duties to shareholders in connection with the Company’s public offerings and other statements made by the Company. Sotera provides sterilization and lab testing and advisory services to the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
According to the class action complaint filed against Sotera, the Company’s sterilization services relies on Ethylene Oxide (“EtO”) processing, which emits toxic fumes that must be filtered before being released into the air. In December 2016, the EPA reclassified EtO as a chemical known to be carcinogenic to humans and increased its estimate of EtO’s cancer potency by a multiple of thirty.
Sotera, through its Sterigenics business, conducts or has conducted EtO processing at facilities located in Illinois, California, Georgia, and New Mexico. In August 2018, the EPA reported that people living in communities near Sterigenics’ facilities in Illinois, Georgia, and New Mexico had among the highest cancer rates in the country. That same month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report documenting the public health impacts of Sterigenics’ emissions on the area surrounding its Illinois facility and revealed the staggering and disproportionate risks of cancer in that area.
Beginning in September 2018, cancer-stricken plaintiffs filed a surge of lawsuits in Illinois against Sotera alleging that EtO emissions from the Company’s sterilization facility had caused their cancer. On September 30, 2019, Sotera announced the closure of its Illinois facility. Beginning in August 2020, just months before the IPO, cancer-stricken plaintiffs living in proximity to a Sterigenics facility in Georgia filed lawsuits similar to those filed in Illinois.
Sotera conducted its IPO on November 20, 2020 and its SPO on March 18, 2021. The Offering Materials included numerous materially false and misleading representations concerning its emissions control systems and exposure to liability from lawsuits for the Company’s failure to limit harmful EtO emissions. The Company represented that it had “a proactive [environmental, health and safety] program and a culture of safety and quality.” In addition, Sotera stated that it employed adequate and effective safeguards to control EtO emissions. Moreover, Sotera and its executives vehemently denied allegations that the Company’s EtO emissions from its sterilization facilities caused cancer and other severe health issues in people living in the communities near those facilities.
On September 19, 2022, an Illinois state court jury in the first lawsuit arising from Sotera’s EtO emissions to go to trial found Sotera liable for the plaintiff’s cancer. Specifically, the jury awarded the plaintiff $363 million in damages, including $38 million in compensatory damages and $325 million in punitive damages. The jury cited Sotera’s and Sterigenics’ “willful and wanton” misconduct in not preventing toxic EtO emissions, and failing to warn about the severe health hazard posed by the Company’s Illinois facility. As a result of these disclosures, Sotera’s stock price declined by $4.90 per share, or 33.3%, from $14.73 per share on September 16, 2022, to $9.83 per share on September 19, 2022. In turn, analysts downgraded Sotera stock, causing the stock price to decline further. As of September 21, 2022, Sotera’s stock traded at $7.32 per share, or more than 68% below the IPO price and nearly 73% below the SPO price.
What Now: Sotera Health Company (SHC) shareholders have legal options. If you own shares of Sotera Health Company or have incurred a recent significant loss in the stock, contact us for more information about your rights.
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