A federal jury has reportedly awarded $7.2 million to a man who claimed that he developed bronchiolitis obliterans, a debilitating lung disease also known as popcorn lung, from consuming two to three bags of microwave popcorn every day for six years. Watson v. Dillon Cos., Inc., No. 08-cv-00091-WDM-CBS (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Colo., decided September 19, 2012). Details about the case appear in issue 244 of this Update. The settlement that the plaintiff reached with one of the defendants, a flavoring manufacturer, is discussed in Issue 331 of this Update.
According to a news source, the jury found that Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., which manufactured the popcorn, and a retailer were negligent for failing to warn that diacetyl, the butter flavoring chemical in the product, was dangerous. The manufacturer was found liable for 80 percent of the damages, and the supermarket chain was found liable for 20 percent. The retailer has indicated that it will appeal the verdict. The plaintiff was represented by Kenneth McClain, a Missouri-based attorney, who has brought successful occupational exposure claims since 2004 on behalf of popcorn and flavoring workers who also developed the disease. See Thomson Reuters and The Kansas City Star, September 19, 2012.