Lifestyle & Belief

Man wins $7 million in 'popcorn lung' case


Wayne Watson claimed his addiction to microwaved popcorn caused his lung condition.

Colorado man, Wayne Watson, used to love to eat microwaved popcorn.

For 10 years, he would consume about two bags a day until he discovered the potentially dangerous consequences.

Watson developed bronchiolitis obliterans, dubbed "popcorn lung," which permanently scars airways and leaves victims fighting for breath.

The 59-year-old sued the manufacturer, Gilster-Mary Lee, and Kroger and Dillon Foods, the supermarket chains that sold the dangerous snack, claiming he developed the lung condition from inhaling the vapors of the additive diacetyl, which gives the popcorn its irresistibly buttery taste, CBS Denver reported.

Popcorn makers stopped using diacetyl in 2007 after it was linked to lung ailments in workers at plants where the popcorn was produced.

"[The popcorn makers] did absolutely no testing whatsoever that the consumer might be at risk," Watson, 59, told CBS Denver.

"The only experiment they did was go sell the product and see what happens. They rolled the dice and lost," said Watson.

The jury heard evidence from a doctor from National Jewish Hospital who diagnosed Watson’s condition as “popcorn lung” five years ago.

It took the jurors almost two days of deliberations to reach their verdict, awarding Watson $7.2million. 

The New York Daily News said defense lawyers claimed the popcorn was not to blame for Watson's illness. They said he became sick from the chemicals used in his carpet-cleaning business.

"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," Gilster-Mary Lee said in a statement.

Watson said he no longer eats microwaved popcorn, preferring to cook it on the stove the old-fashioned way.