A former employee of a popcorn plant was recently awarded the largest verdict of this type by a Chicago jury. The plaintiff, Gerardo Solis, had been a worker in a Chicago popcorn plant owned by Flavorchem Corp for 8 years from 1998-2006.
In 2006 he was diagnosed with Popcorn Lung (also known as Bronchiolitis obliterans). This life-threatening illness inflames the lung’s small airways, called bronchioles, resulting in scarring that permanently obstructs the airways. The only known cure is a lung transplant.
Popcorn lung is caused by a chemical called diacetyl , which is used in the butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn. As explained in this Newsinferno blog post, the link between diacetyl and Popcorn Lung was reported by the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health in 2003.
In the Illinois personal injury lawsuit, Solis sought recovery for his injuries which resulted in him being 100% disabled. He has just 25% of normal lung capacity and there is the strong possibility that he will need a lung transplant during the next decade.
Following trial he was awarded a verdict of $30.4 million.