Colorado Man Awarded $7 Million In Popcorn Lung Lawsuit

News

By: Adelle Platon / September 20, 2012

A Colorado man was awarded $7.2 million by a federal judge after developing a chronic condition known as popcorn lung from a chemical used in flavoring microwave popcorn.

According to Yahoo! News, jurors sided with 59-year-old Watson who claimed that the popcorn manufacturer and the supermarket chain that sold it were negligent by failing to put the warning on labels that the butter flavoring, diacetyl, was dangerous. The condition, more specifically referred to as bronchiolitis obliterans, is a form of obstructive lung disease that makes it difficult for air to flow out of the lungs and is irreversible, according to WebMd. Watson was the first consumer of microwave popcorn diagnosed with the disease, his attorney Kenneth McClain said.

After years of inhaling the smell of artificial butter from the popcorn he said he ate daily, Watson was diagnosed with the disease in 2007. An attorney for the defendants had told jurors that Watson’s health problems were from his years of using dangerous chemicals as a carpet cleaner. The verdict was the latest in a line of cases in the past 15 years, starting with workers in popcorn plants where diacetyl was an ingredient and was linked to health problems.

Jurors found Gilster-Mary Lee Corp, the private-labeling manufacturer of the popcorn, liable for 80 percent of the $7,217,961 damages and the King Soopers supermarket chain and its parent, Kroger Co, liable for 20 percent. A spokeswoman for King Soopers and Kroger said the companies intended to appeal the decision while an attorney for Gilster-Mary Lee was not immediately available for comment.

It took the jury a day to reach the verdict after a nine-day trial.