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Plaintiff wins $7.2 million in popcorn lung suit

Wayne Watson claimed his daily consumption of microwave popcorn led to lung disease

The verdict is in for Wayne Watson—and he’s won big!

Yesterday, a U.S. federal court awarded Watson $7.2 million in his suit against a popcorn maker and supermarket after he developed “popcorn lung” from his daily consumption of the microwavable snack.

According to his suit—the first of its kind to be filed by a consumer—the chronic condition is brought on by regularly inhaling the chemical diacetyl, which is used as a butter flavoring in microwave popcorn. The condition makes it difficult for air to flow out of the lungs and, according to WebMD, it’s irreversible. Watson filed suit in 2007, after he was diagnosed with the respiratory disorder.

The jury in this case found private label popcorn manufacturer Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. liable for 80 percent of Watson’s damages award. Supermarket chain King Soopers and its parent, Kroger Co., are liable for the other 20 percent.

Although Watson’s was the first consumer suit, this verdict is only one of many of its type in suits that have been brought by workers in microwave popcorn plants. Those suits began popping up in 2004 and many have been awarded large damages.

Read more about this ruling on Thomson Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and ABC News.


Cathleen Flahardy

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