Colorado Man Wins $7 Million in ‘Popcorn Lung’ Lawsuit

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Popcorn enthusiast Wayne Watson is living proof that eating two bags of popcorn a day isn’t just bad for the heart. It’s murder on your lungs, too.

The suburban Denver resident has been awarded $7.2 million after successfully suing Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc. for respiratory damage from inadvertently inhaling excessive amounts of microwave popcorn’s artificial butter smell.

(MORE: Top 10 Outrageous Legal Battles)

Watson has “microwave popcorn lung” — we kid you not — a disease first reported among popcorn factory workers. He is the first non-worker to report such symptoms, though his former two-bag-a-day habit puts him at a similar level of exposure. Watson has not eaten a bag of popcorn since 2007.

Apparently, the buttery fumes contain dicetyl, a chemical that can damage the lungs. Watson claimed that the popcorn bags carried no warning of such a side effect. (Dicetyl is no longer added to popcorn butter.)

Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully that Watson’s years working with carpet cleaners had caused his respiratory issues, which were diagnosed in 2007, KCNC-TV in Denver reported.

Lawyers for grocery chain Kroger were incredulous of Watson’s claims; one told Denver’s CBS4 that he “might as well have warned that there are aliens popping out of the bags because there’s just as much support for that.”

For its part, Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. released a statement.

“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.”

The real tragedy is that the Stella Awards are no longer handed out–Watson could have tucked another win under his belt.

MORE: NFL Players Have a Higher Risk of Death from Brain Disease

8 comments
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Harlow Siyah Bailey
Harlow Siyah Bailey

Wow this is utterly ridiculous. "Popcorn Lung" wow.  Obviously he was exposed to other chemicals and also no one put a gun to his head and said, "eat two bags of popcorn everyday"!  While I believe that American and Chinese governments should be held accountable for the poisons they put into the food supply this goes way beyond any reasoning.  When China purposely taints food products and baby products we as Americans should cut them out of the trade completely, but that won't happen because American corporations are addicted to cheap labor.  When you have a scandal as huge as the "Love Canal" that involved many government and private agencies they should be held accountable.  But when you have something that one person has reported and not in high numbers you question the logic wtf.

Spy Tronix
Spy Tronix

Our products don't cause cancer - and our customers love them: Spy-Tronix.

magoozerguy
magoozerguy

Both Mr. Watson and the popcorn companies are to blame for this situation. First of all, anyone that eats two bags of popcorn a day, is going to have some health related issue later on. That's just not healthy to do, and Mr. Watson should have known that.

However, the popcorn companies are also to blame. They should have had warnings on the box that the popcorn butter contained dicetyl.  Or even better, they shouldn't have put that in the popcorn butter in the first place.

It's amazing how much money you can earn by just eating unhealthy. For everyone that is experiencing unemployment, here is your way out. Just eat a couple of Big Macs every day, become obese, sue McDonalds for giving you heart disease, and then become an instant millionaire.

Xira
Xira

The reason such high 'paydays' are justified in Amerika is that we have no safety net.

This guy can't work. His needs must be met. It's logical to take that from the ones who caused his condition. It's unfortunate that we don't extend this to all our citizens, but it is what it is.

Another_Netizin
Another_Netizin

Nope, the real tragedy in this story is most people won't see the real information behind Stella Liebeck and the famously incorrect crazy lawsuit spilled coffee 'story' because of crappy reporting from mainstream news like Time and this hack of a journalist. Go see the documentary "HOT COFFEE" <www.hotcoffeethemovie.com> and see if you want to continue listening to these propagandists, or seek out correct information yourself.

Should jurists be more informed before giving out "million dollar paydays?" Sure, but look into Jury Nullification, then see what your opinion is.</www.hotcoffeethemovie.com>

Nonaffiliated
Nonaffiliated

I believe water poisoning should be next on the list of things to sue about.  A person who consumes too much water will develop potentially deadly water intoxication (aka water poisoning).  Google it if you're skeptical.  Stores currently sell bottled water in massive quantities without a single warning on the label.  I wonder if Mr. Watson's lawyer is available?