Verdicts & Settlements

Colo. Man Who Claimed Daily Popcorn Habit Caused Lung Injury Is Awarded $7.2M


Federal jurors in Denver have awarded $7.2 million to a Colorado man who claimed his lungs were injured by inhaling fumes from microwave popcorn he ate on a daily basis.

Wayne Watson, 59, says he at about two bags of popcorn a day. His suit claimed the popcorn manufacturer should have warned him that the butter flavoring was dangerous, report CBS Denver and Reuters.

Lawyers for one of the defendants, a supermarket chain that sold the popcorn, responded that the company “might have well have warned that there are aliens popping out of the bags because there’s just as much support for that.” The defendants claimed Watson’s lung problems were caused by chemicals he used as a carpet cleaner.

Jurors found the King Soopers supermarket chain and its parent, Kroger Co., liable for 20 percent of the verdict, Reuters says. The popcorn manufacturer, the Illinois-based Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., was found liable for 80 percent.

Watson’s lawyer, Kenneth McClain, said his client was the first consumer of microwave popcorn diagnosed with the disease commonly known as popcorn lung. Popcorn workers who contracted the disease have also sued and won awards or settlements. The popcorn flavoring, called dicetyl, is no longer used.

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