Man with popcorn lung awarded $7.3M

Sept. 20, 2012 at 7:53 AM
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DENVER, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A jury in Denver awarded $7.3 million to a man who suffers from so-called popcorn lung after eating two to three bags of microwave popcorn a day for years.

Doctors at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver diagnosed Wayne Watson, a Centennial furniture salesman, with bronchiolitis obliterans, which permanently scars the airways, making it difficult for the man to breathe, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

The disease was first detected in popcorn factory workers and is caused by inhaling the artificial butter flavor -- which contains the chemical diacetyl -- used in the snack.

Chicago-based Glister-Mary Lee, which makes microwave popcorn, Kroger and its subsidiary Dillon Cos, were defendants in the case.

"At this time we intend to file an appeal of the decision," said Kelli McGannon, a spokeswoman for King Scoopers, which is owned by Dillon.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Denver awarded Watson $2.3 million in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages Wednesday, the Post reported.

"I just hope that this doesn't happen to others," Watson said in a statement. "That's why we filed the case."

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