Popcorn Lung: Colorado Man Wins $7 Million Lawsuit

A Colorado man who developed a lung condition from the butter flavoring used in his favorite microwave popcorn has won a $7.2 million lawsuit, according to Reuters. 59-year-old Wayne Watson claims the popcorn packaging did not contain any warnings about the dangers of diacetyl, the chemical used to give the product its buttery taste. As a result of the manufacturer’s negligence, Watson is now suffering from an irreversible lung condition.

The Denver, Colorado native is reportedly the first individual to be diagnosed with “popcorn lung,” technically known as bronchiolitis obliterans. After years of breathing in the fumes rising from his delicious microwave popcorn, Watson began suffering from serious respiratory problems. He was officially diagnosed with the condition in 2007.

“It’s kind of a weird story isn’t it? A guy gets sick by breathing in the toxic fumes of dicetyl that is on butter-flavored microwave popcorn in the sanctity of his own kitchen,” Watson explained to CBS Denver. “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.”

After hearing testimony from both sides, a jury decided that manufacturer Gilster-Mary Lee Corp and Kroger Co. are guilty of failing to provide proper warnings on the product’s packaging. For his troubles, Watson will receive $7.2 million in damages. Gilster-Mary Lee is responsible for 80 percent of that figure, while Kroger and King Soopers will be forced to cough up 20 percent.

The manufacturer issued the following statement on the matter:

“Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. has manufactured and provided safe, quality microwave popcorn to consumers for over two decades. 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.”

Do you feel Wayne Watson should receive $7 million in damages for developing “popcorn lung?”