Sterigenics granted 14-day restraining order in suit against Cobb County

Sterigenics sign in article about lawsuit Sterigenics, BD BardSterigenics (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

This morning Sterigenics was granted a 14-day restraining order allowing it to operate without interference from Cobb County.

The suit by Sterigenics, filed March 30, named Cobb County Fire Marshall Nicholas Dawe and Kevin Gobble, Cobb’s Development and Inspections Division manager.

The order was issued in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, by Judge William Ray II, and reads as follows:

Upon consideration of Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, the memorandum, exhibits, and declarations in support thereof, it is hereby:

ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion fora Temporary Restraining Order is GRANTED.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Nicholas Dawe and Kevin Gobble are TEMPORARILY RESTRAINED, for the duration of 14 days, from precluding Sterigenics’ operations at its facility in Cobb County, Georgia. Sterigenics shall be free to conduct its normal operations at the facility to sterilize medical products without interference of Mr. Dawe or Mr. Gobble during that 14-day period.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2), this order is also binding on Mr. Gobble’s and Mr. Dawe’s “agents, servants, employees, and attorneys; and . . . other persons who are in active concert or participation “with them and “who receive notice of [the order] by personal service or otherwise.”SO ORDERED this 1st day of April, 2020.

The response from Sterigenics to the ruling

Sterigenics issued the following press release this morning about the ruling:

April 1, 2020 –Atlanta, GA –Sterigenics, a leading provider of mission-critical sterilization services to the healthcare industry, today commented on the ruling by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granting the company’s request for a temporary restraining order.

“Sterigenics is pleased the Court has granted our emergency request for a temporary restraining order to allow us to fully resume the safe sterilization of medical products and supplies in Atlanta. This ruling enables Sterigenics to serve the urgent needs of health care workers and patients,without product limitation, as we begin the proceeding to establish our right to continue the safe operation of our longstanding facility in the interests of public health.”

Response from Cobb County

We reached out to Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt, and the county does not yet have a comment on the ruling.

Background

The Sterigenics plant became a focus of community concern in Smyrna and surrounding areas after an article jointly published by Georgia Health News and WebMD reported that three census tracts, two in the Smyrna area and one in Covington, had unacceptable levels of cancer risk by EPA standards, due to elevated amounts of ethylene oxide in the air.

The site has been the subject of community organizing and protests.

In February scheduled testing at the plant was canceled, and Monday of last week the previously canceled testing was resumed.

Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Boyce then issued an emergency order at the urging of the FDA allowing the plant to reopen temporarily. Sterigenics objected to the temporary nature of the reopening, and then filed suit.

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