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"Popcorn Lung": Colorado Man Awarded $7.2 Million After Developing Lung Problem from Microwave Popcorn

A man in Colorado received $7.2 Million in a lawsuit against the manufactures of a product that gave him 'popcorn lung'.

By Dexter Keyton, EnStars on Sep 20, 2012 02:49 PM EDT
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Wayne Watson
59-year-old Wayne Watson won a lawsuit and was awarded $7.2 million after he developed a lung condition known as “popcorn lung’ (Photo : CBS Denver)

A strange case occurred that gave one Colorado man a serious health problem for enjoying one of his favorite snacks.

59-year-old Wayne Watson won a lawsuit and was awarded $7.2 million after he developed a lung condition known as "popcorn lung' after eating microwave popcorn with a harmful butter flavoring, according to Reuters. He claimed that the popcorn packaging that he purchased did not contain any warnings about the dangers of diacetyl, the chemical that gives the popcorn its buttery taste.

The manufacturers Gilster-Mary Lee Corp and Kroger Co. were found guilty by a jury for their negligence which led to Watson's irreversible lung condition.

Gilster-Mary Lee is responsible for 80 percent of that figure, while Kroger and King Soopers will be forced to cough up 20 percent for failing to provide proper warnings on the product's packaging.

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."

Watson, a native of Denver, Colorado, is reportedly the first individual to be diagnosed with the condition bronchiolitis obliterans, better known as 'popcorn lung'. He was officially diagnosed with the condition in 2007 as it developed after years of breathing in the fumes that rose from his favorite microwave popcorn, causing serious respiratory problems.

On Thursday, CBS Denver interviewed Watson where he said: "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."

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