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Man Awarded $7.2M “Popcorn Lung” Verdict in Food Injury Lawsuit

Wayne Watson, who developed respiratory health issues in 2007, has won a $7.2 million food injury verdict from Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., Dillon Companies Inc., and The Kroger Co. for his “popcorn lung” affliction. The illness is linked to the chemicals used in microwaved popcorn to make it taste buttery while keeping the calories down. Watson ate two bag of popcorn daily for about a decade.

The jury found popcorn maker Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. 80% liable and Kong Soopers’ supermarket ‘s parent companies Kroger and Dillon Foods 20% liable. His food injury lawyers contended that the defendants should have warned consumers that inhaling the buttery smell could cause lung damage. Diacetyl, which is the chemical found in the popcorn Watson ate, may have a possible link to Alzheimer’s. Manufacturers no longer use it in artificial flavoring. (Watson settled his products liability claim against FONA International Inc., a flavor developer, separately.)

“Popcorn lung” is a potentially deadly respiratory disease that is mostly found in flavoring plant workers who end up inhaling diacetyl on the job. (In 2004, Eric People’s, a Gilster-Mary Lee plant work, won a $20 million personal injury verdict for lung damage that he developed while involved in the manufacturing of buttered popcorn.) Symptoms may include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans, which can constrict and scar the lung’s smallest airways, may even develop.

Food Injury Lawsuits
If you believe that a tainted, spoiled, or unsafe food caused you to suffer illness or injury, you should speak with a Boston products liability and food injury law firm right away. Food items are consumer goods, and sometimes they can become contaminated during their manufacturing, packaging, delivery, storage, preparation, or sale. You may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer, seller, distributor, preparer, or another liable party.

Colorado man Wayne Watson wins $7 million in “popcorn lung” lawsuit, CBS News, September 20, 2012

‘Popcorn lung’ lawsuit: Denver man gets $7.2-million verdict, Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2012

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