Colorado Man Wins $7.2 million in ‘Popcorn Lung’ Lawsuit

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by Eric Pearson

Colorado native Wayne Watson won a $7.2 million jury verdict on September 19, 2012 against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., for his serious lung ailment caused by the inhalation of artificial flavoring used in buttered popcorn.

Watson says he ate about two bags of microwave popcorn per day before he was diagnosed with a serious respiratory condition in 2007. The condition, known as “popcorn lung,” is an irreversible lung disease that seriously diminishes lung capacity and causes shortness of breath and wheezing. According to Watson, while he may look healthy, on a good day, he has only about 53 percent lung capacity.

Popcorn lung typically affects plant workers exposed to high levels of diacetyl, an artificial flavoring used to give popcorn its buttery taste. Watson alleged that the popcorn maker and the supermarket that sold the popcorn should have warned of the dangers of inhaling diacetyl. In addition to causing a serious lung condition, diacetyl has recently been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well. Many manufacturers no longer use diacetyl in microwave popcorn.

In addition to microwave popcorn, diacetyl is also used in other snack foods, pet foods, candies, baked goods, and other food products to give them a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recent studies have shown a connection between exposure to diacetyl and bronchial fibrosis, occupational asthma, obstructive lung disease and necrotizing laryngitis.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or illness that you believe may have been caused by exposure to diacetyl, you may be entitled to compensation. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have successfully handled hundreds of lawsuits involving defective and dangerous products and are available for a free legal consultation about your case.

To find out if you are eligible, call us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or fill out our free online case evaluation form and one of our representatives will contact you for more information.