Popcorn Lung: Wayne Watson Wins $7 Million in Popcorn Lawsuit
Sep 21, 2012 03:09 PM EDT
Jurors in a Colorado court awarded Wayne Watson $7 million in damages in a lawsuit which claimed that Watson developed severe respiratory dysfunction from inhaling fumes of artificial butter present in microwave popcorn produced by Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. The jury found the popcorn manufacturer 80 percent liable and the stores, King Soopers' supermarket and Dillon Foods and Kroger 20 percent liable for his health damages.
The 59-year-old Watson said that he had been eating two bags of the popcorn every day for ten years and developed a respiratory disorder called "popcorn lung" in 2007. The disorder is characterized by chronic cough, wheezing, which can develop into asthma, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia. It is caused by a chemical called diacetyl, which is used in popcorn to create the flavor of butter.
Watson recently reached a settlement with the flavor creator called FONA International Inc. The popcorn manufacturer said that it will appeal the decision. Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. released a statement to CBS News stating, "We are certainly very disappointed by the decision of the jury in this case in light of the very clear evidence which was presented, including the millions of consumers who have safely used and enjoyed microwave popcorn since it was introduced. We are currently evaluating our next steps in this matter and will assert all rights available to us under the law."
Attorneys of King Soopers' Supermarket expressed disappointment over the verdict, denying that there was any substantial support to the claims, one of the defense attorneys told CBS News that Watson and his lawyers "might have well have warned that there are aliens popping out of the bags because there's just as much support for that."
While Watson says that he is satisfied with the verdict and says that he stays away from micro-wave popcorn. "I haven't eaten a bag of popcorn since 2007. I hardly eat popcorn any more. Occasionally we'll pop some on the stove the old fashioned way," said Watson as reported by CBS News.