Skip to comments.'Popcorn Lung' Lawsuit Nets $7.2M Award
Posted on 09/20/2012 6:42:48 AM PDT by SoFloFreeper
Wayne Watson's love of popcorn almost turned deadly after he developed respiratory problems in 2007 known as "popcorn lung."
Watson, a Denver native, says he ate about two bags of popcorn everyday for 10 years, and developed the rare disease possibly from inhaling the artificial butter smell of the microwave popcorn. On Wednesday, Watson won a $7.2 million verdict against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., for his illness.
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...
Just incredible. An unfair assault on another American business. Just plain stupid.
7300 bags of popcorn, $7.2M award?
$1000 per bag?
Whiskey Tango Oliver Mary God.
I've isolated the problem. If he consumed real popcorn that is poped in a pot with hot oil he'd be healthy AND have popcorn that tasted good.
This is a wierd world, for sure.
There’s a group of up to 12 people in Colorado who need a really hard slap across the face.
... and second-hand smoke from cigs causes more cancers than direct inhalation!!! Yeah, right!
They must have hired John Edwards to channel another little girl!
Addictions are now going for $7M for ten years. Self control $0.
And, therefore, what?
Actually, the chemicals in microwave popcorn are known to be hazardous.. For most people, they are not exposed to enough of it to be dangerous, and its effects are primarly a risk to folks who work in the factories making it. This guy clearly developed the problem, so its hard to argue that the product didn’t cause it.
I don’t know about you, but no microwave popcorn package I have ever seen mentions this risk, you only find out about the fact these chemicals cause health problems in large continuous exposure if you investigate it.
Seems to me, if he developed this condition, and he didn’t work in a manufacturing plant, he’s got a rather open and shut case.
OK, I’ll wager that eating that much of ANYTHING everyday for 10 years is dangerous.
That artificial butter crap must be recycled oil spill.
Especially with coconut oil.
See Post #10, the health risks from the chemicals in microwave popcorn are known and documented, OSHA if I am not mistaken even has safety protocols for manufacturers directly related to them in the manufacturing process. Most consumers never are exposed to them in enough quantities or frequency to cause any sort of issue, but since he developed the issues its hard to argue that the product wasn’t a cause.
I'm not a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but this is not one of them. You are correct.
I read somewhere that popcorn manufacturers have agreed to change their formulas sometime in the next few years to eliminate this hazard. So they know about this hazard, but are too cheap to do anything about it. Oh, and they didn't bother to warn the public.
Yep, the consumer was right about this one.
Cause: His eating two bags of microwave popcorn each day for ten years. Effect: Overexposure. I'm good with the jury finding him 99.99999% at fault and requiring him to pay the majority of the 'damages' to the public for his stupidity - oh, and the microwave popcorn maker can toss in a free case of product. Might even raise the product's status to 'contributing factor'. But to assign blame to the manufacturer only and steal money from the company? Just goes beyond any common sense.
I’m becoming more of a misanthrope every day. This guy should be an honorable mention for the Darwin Awards.
I love it when an armchair (or actual) lawyer starts pontificating about stuff. It reveals their heart along with their minds.
In your case, it seems that you are one of those that can't accept the fact that "sh*t happens". Every thing is something's or somebody's fault, and you are not responsible.
That sounds just like somebody (in)famous...
Flour needs to immediately be recalled, and huge warning labels need to be put on every bag, warning that the contents may be hazardous if inhaled in large quantities. It can lead to bacterial infections and lung disease. Manufacturers have known about this problem for over a hundred years and they have conspired to keep this knowledge hidden from the public. Every baker should be immediately awarded a 3 million dollar class action benefit.
Or at least open a window.
No rule should ever be made for the exception. No law, no lawsuit, nothing. The exception IS the exception.
I’d be of a completely different mind if this guy worked in the factory making the stuff and the company refused the use of at least a face mask. But this guy went out of his way to consistently overexpose himself.
The jury was wrong, once again, taking money from others to give to a complete idiot who did this to himself.
Coffee is SUPPOSED to be hot, snacks are SUPPOSED to be eaten in moderation, and when you scald yourself or wreck your lungs doing stupid things, the fault lays with the idiot who did it.
Can’t wait for the ‘fire log’ lawsuits to start...
Oh come on. Flour is not manufactured to be inhaled. But popcorn is manufactured to be eaten, and that consumer was doing just that, eating popcorn.
Now, if the consumer had sued the company for getting fat, I'd side with the company. And I'd make the consumer pay all court costs. I'd expect the average person to know that if you eat too much of anything, you'll get fat.
But I wouldn't expect the average person to know that if you eat too much popcorn, you'll get a serious lung disease.
I love real popcorn, but my nose and tongue tell me in no uncertain terms that the artificial butter flavor is something to be avoided. Something that tastes and smells that bad can’t be good for you.
Look if the guy developed some random disease, you could make your argument that he’s just finger pointing to find someone to blame, however this guy developed a very specific condition. One that is WELL KNOWN, DOCUMENTED and UNDERSTOOD to be caused by exposure to chemicals used in microwave popcorn! In fact the condition and its cause are so well connected, if I am not mistake even OSHA has specific prescribed safety protocals for factories manufacturing the stuff just for this issue.
This person clearly developed this condition, and clearly was exposed, without warning to ongoign doses of these chemicals. So to claim the manufacturer is just having its finger pointed as a blame anyone is nonsense.
You don’t have to like the way the legal system works, but it is how it works. There is little way to argue the product wasn’t involved in this disease or condition, and unless he worked in a factory making this stuff, its pretty open and shut the exposure came from the ongoing consumption and use of the product, and like it or not, the company made no warning to consumers of the risk, an risk that they cannot claim they had no knowledge of.
Sorry, your logic doesn’t hold.
Lets change the product, lets say the guy ate 2 apples a day and developed a condition that is known, and only known to occur to those exposed to chemicals used as pesticides in apples. Would you sit there and say oh its the persons fault for eating 2 apples a day??
The link between chemicals in microwave popcorn, and this particular health condition are so well known, that as I have stated before even OSHA has explicite safety protocols in factories regarding them. This condition is known to be caused by high levels and frequent exposure to these chemicals. No microwave popcorn manufacturer has ever listed any warning regarding their products being potentially harmful, so to claim the consumer should know that eating 2 bags of popcorn a day would cause “popcorn lung” is nonsense.
The manufacturers clearly know the risks of exposure to these chemicals, as does the government. The belief that levels of exposure had to be very high and sustained to cause the illness meant they didn’t want to put it on their products warning for fear it would impact sales, and their risk reward analysis said the risk is incredibly low a consumer would develop this condition. Turns out, like it or not, while the risk was low, it clearly could happen from using their product at the consumer level.
You and I may not eat 2 bags of popcorn a day, but hardly would I think any reasonable person eating 2 bags of popcorn a day could reasonably know or expect to develop a condition that the general public for the most part has never heard of, but the industry and government know all too well. If the guy was suing because he got obese from eating 2 bags of popcorn a day, I’d be right with you, but that’s not the case here.
You cannot make a strong argument the plaintiff wasn’t taking personal responsibility because the risk was never communicated to him. In fact, before this article hit the wire, I bet you 99.99% of consumers would have no idea what PopCorn lung was or what caused it. Unless you worked in the industry, or regulatory oversight of it, or were a doctor who treated it, odds of you having any idea this condition even existed, let alone its cause were next to nil.
A smoker sues a tobacco company, they rightly should be told go get bent, you knew the risks and took them. However if the risks are never given to the consumer, you can’t make that argument.
Cause: His eating two bags of microwave popcorn each day for ten years. Effect: Overexposure. I’m good with the jury finding him 99.99999% at fault and requiring him to pay the majority of the ‘damages’ to the public for his stupidity - oh, and the microwave popcorn maker can toss in a free case of product. Might even raise the product’s status to ‘contributing factor’. But to assign blame to the manufacturer only and steal money from the company? Just goes beyond any common sense.
Well in many group homes and hospitals where ventilation is not good, staff pop up to 8 bags of popcorn an hour each evening.
If I were them, I would appeal it.
Thing is, too many people yap about how insane these verdicts are but at the same time duck and dodge and brag about avoiding jury duty.
Insanity. . .times two.
My gawd. . .excellent!
Not really. Plenty of people eat the same food every day of their lives and have no issues.
Of course blame is assigned only to the manufacturer, if the manufacturer does not notify the consumer of a hazard that is well known to them and could be easily avoided if the consumer were made aware.
Give me a break. Taking a whiff of the food you are about to eat is not “huffing”. It’s a pretty standard part of enjoying a meal, and nobody would expect any negative health consequences from in under ordinary circumstances.
Just curious, what method would you suggest would have worked in making someone who ate two bags of microwave popcorn daily for ten years aware of this astoundingly tiny danger? A marching band waiving banners stating that he is a stupid idiot? Because some tiny text on the box wouldn't have affected this case in the slightest.
You CAN'T make laws or regulations or rules based upon exceptions. Is it possible to get this 'popcorn lung' from casual consumption of this product? I've yet to see any credible evidence about it. The two class actions based upon it were thrown out of court. This was simply listening to a sob story without using the slightest bit of common sense - yeah, you got sick because you didn't use a product in a rational manner. That's your problem, not anyone else's.
Then again, rational reactions and acceptance of personal responsibility have slowly slipped away from even conservative forums.
Some people are all kinds of stupid.
The factory workers seem to have fared well over the years and I myself had two bags of Microwave popcorn last week...
Did you notice that this seems timed to coincide with teh annual Boy Scout Popcorn Sale.
Y’all make it a point to support Boy Scouts with a popcorn purchase.
As I type, my wife is helping our popcorn chairman pick up a couple pallets of delicious Boy Scout popcorn. Perfect for eating this election season.
“Because some tiny text on the box wouldn’t have affected this case in the slightest.”
Yes it would, because it would have helped protect the manufacturer from potential liability. This guy may have ignored the warning and gotten the disease anyway, but he couldn’t have claimed that the manufacturer was aware of the risk and concealing it from the consumer.
The manufacturer decided to take this risk by not doing that, knowing that some people will get sick and sue them. They apparently decided that the amount of money they lose on these lawsuits is less than the sales they might lose if people read a warning label on their product and decided to go with a safer alternative. They made a business decision to accept the lesser potential loss, plain and simple.
“you got sick because you didn’t use a product in a rational manner. That’s your problem, not anyone else’s.”
Whether he was using the product in a “rational manner” is completely subjective when it comes to food and eating habits. I think that eating tofu is irrational, but that’s a wholly subject argument that would have no bearing on a discussion like this. He was preparing the popcorn according to the directions and consuming it, which is the intended use. There is nothing, in and of itself, irrational about that, despite the fact that you think he shouldn’t have been eating so much popcorn.
The only “warning” they should include on future bags is a a warnign to stay away from this man because he is an idiot
“Im becoming more of a misanthrope every day.”
You and me both, Pal. You and me both.
More text simply to protect a company from the courts, not to protect the consumer... Yeah, that's making regulations that make sense... WARNING: Hot Coffee is hot!
“More text simply to protect a company from the courts, not to protect the consumer.”
No, it protects both the company and the consumer. The consumer may choose to ignore it, but then they are just assuming the risk that they are now aware of. It doesn’t mean the warning doesn’t serve a purpose for the consumer.
Also... “WARNING: Hot Coffee is hot!”
is a ridiculous comparison. Hot coffee being hot is an obvious fact that shouldn’t require any warning, since it is common knowledge. Diacetyl used in artificial butter causing lung disease due to repeated exposure is certainly not common knowledge.
It is not. It is EXACTLY the same thing. Repeated self induced over exposure is the fault here. Or do you propose that every bottle of water in the United States has the following warning printed on the label: WARNING: Over use of this product can produce a toxic reaction that may lead to physical harm or even death!
Water poisoning happens FAR more often, and often proves fatal.
We MUST get away from this 'It isn't my fault..' mentality - he did this to himself, he deserves nothing, the company is not at fault. He ate the damn things twice a day for 10 years - find me someone who thinks this is a reasonable use of this product.
“It is not. It is EXACTLY the same thing. Repeated self induced over exposure is the fault here.”
By your logic, I could start selling ice cream that contained a non-lethal dose of cyanide, with no warning on the product, just as long as it wasn’t harmful unless you ate too much ice cream (however much that is). Ludicrous.
If the level of cyanide was of a low dose that wouldn’t affect you unless you ate it twice a day for ten years, yeah, it’d be not only legal, but it is COMMON today. If you’re afraid of it, never ever eat peach ice cream. The body processes small amounts of cyanide without harm.
It might be legal, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be liable. They are two separate things.
He clasped the bag around his face and huffed it.
He did it every day, day after day, year after year.
I have toured the OSHA lab where they did the work on this issue. I first heard about this there, and the article I posted verifies that account.
Since I'm arguing that the idiotic court system is the problem here, discarding personal responsibility for some uber Mommy who will 'protect' you from your own foolish idiocy, I personally don't give a rip if it's either.
But in this particular case you're wrong, going by previous case law - a person ate five servings a day of locally made peach ice cream and later succumbed to cyanide poisoning. The family tried to sue the ice cream maker, the court dismissed the case stating that 'the courts aren't there to protect people from doing foolish things.' As a sign of how foolish this was, the text includes a suggestion that suing an ammunition maker because you shot yourself with a gun would be equally foolish. This was in 1946 - my, how far we've fallen.
“But in this particular case you’re wrong, going by previous case law”
Not really, since that case isn’t comparable. You’re using an example of a naturally occuring toxic ingredient that would be easily ascertainable by anyone who wished to know. Just as dog owners generally know you don’t feed stuff with chocolate in it to dogs, or you don’t eat lots of shellfish when you are pregnant. My example was of someone intentionally adulterating their product nobody would reasonably assume was toxic with a toxic ingredient, and then neglecting to give any warning of that increased toxicity to the consumer.