Lifestyle & Belief

Popcorn lung couple that won $20 million files for bankruptcy


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

A couple who won $20 million from a popcorn fragrance company is now broke, The Joplin Globe reported. Eric and Cassandra Peoples won the money in 2004 against International Flavors and Frances Inc., makers of a butter flavoring plant where Eric worked. The lawsuit said that Eric developed an incurable lung condition from the butter fumes and required a transplant. 

But after a jury ruled in Eric's favor and awarded him and his wife $18 million and $2 million six years ago, the couple has now filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  That doesn't necessarily mean that they blew through $20 million cash by bad spending. In fact, it's possible that they received far less than the awarded amount. How much money they really received has never been made public, as it is not known how much of the money the couple had left after the award was divided between the attorney's firm and other workers filing similar suits, the Globe said.

More from GlobalPost: When the BRICs Crumble

Dutch researchers first established a link between the butter flavor chemical, called chemical diacetyl, and a condition commonly referred to as "popcorn lung" in 2001, ABC News reported. Other workers around the US have filed similar lawsuits and won.

But it's not just popcorn plant workers who are suing. The lawsuits have also crossed over to consumers who buy the popcorn. In September, a Colorado man who ate two bags of microwave popcorn a day won $7 million from a jury, after he argued that he developed "popcorn lung" just from smelling the bags.