March 22, 2006
Kelley Drye obtained a significant win for Honeywell International Inc. in an action brought in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, by 24 former and current hospital employees whose cases were consolidated for trial. The employees claimed they had been exposed to a toxic chemical, ethylene oxide, the active ingredient in a gas mixture used to sterilize heat sensitive medical instruments. The Complaint alleged negligence, product liability and conspiracy, all related to plaintiffs allegations of various neurological injuries from exposure to this gas.
Kelley Drye successfully argued that plaintiffs could not establish causation, negligence or defect as a matter of law. The Court also agreed with Kelley Drye that there was insufficient evidence Honeywell and its co-defendants engaged in a conspiracy to conceal or distort information about the hazards of ethylene oxide.
The Court granted Honeywell’s summary judgment motions on all counts and dismissed the case in its entirety. This decision impacted the ethylene oxide industry overall, as the chemical is vital to hospital safety and has no adequate substitute.