A recent news report has scared many people in America and made them fear a once-unknown disease. A plaintiff in Colorado recently won a large verdict in a “popcorn lung” case. Before this case, only a handful of people had probably even heard of this disease.
Consumer wins popcorn lung case.
Popcorn lung disease is a lung disease that primarily strikes workers in microwave popcorn plants and flavoring plants. The plaintiff in this lawsuit was not a factory worker in one of these facilities. Instead, he was a consumer who said he ate a couple bags of microwave popcorn each day. The man received a judgment of over $7 million against a supermarket chain owner and the Gilster-Mary Lee and Dillon Companies.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were responsible either for making or distributing microwave popcorn that contained a harmful chemical. This chemical, diacetyl, has been used by microwave popcorn makers to create the “butter” flavor in microwave popcorn. The jury determined that the plaintiff’s lung disease was, in fact, caused by his popcorn consumption.
Verdict for plaintiff causes other consumers to question if they may get this disease.
Before this lawsuit, many people had not heard of popcorn lung disease or had believed it to be limited to microwave popcorn plant and flavoring plant workers. Now, people question whether they might develop this disease and, if so, how their lives will change.
What are the health effects associated with this lung disease?
People who are exposed to the harmful chemicals in microwave popcorn experience a cough, fatigue, and difficulty breathing with exertion or exercise. The plaintiff in the lawsuit claimed that “on a good day,” he functioned with just 53% lung capacity. Usually, a person’s symptoms progress over time, although in some cases, symptoms occur suddenly. These symptoms do not typically get better even after the patient limits his exposure to the chemicals.
Popcorn lung disease is serious. People affected by the disease (also known as bronchiolitis obliterans) may notice a gradual improvement in their cough after they are not exposed to the chemical any more, but this could take years. And, the shortness of breath with exertion experienced by these patients often persists even after the cough has improved.
Patients are usually treated with steroid medication. Unfortunately, this treatment has not been successful for most patients. Some patients may require a lung transplant.
People exposed to the chemical may also experience other problems, such as eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation. People may also suffer from chemical eye burns or asthma.
Obviously, a lung disease as serious as this can dramatically impact a person’s life. A victim of popcorn lung disease may have to give up activities the victim once enjoyed, like physical exercise, working outdoors in a garden, or playing with grandchildren. A person who feels fatigued may have to limit all activities. The person may have to quit work and reduce time spent in recreational activities.
Do you think you may have popcorn lung disease? If so, you need to speak to our Chicago, Illinois personal injury attorneys.
If you think you may have popcorn lung disease and you are contemplating pursuing legal action, contact the Chicago, Illinois personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Office LLC. We may be able to help you. You may contact our attorneys by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email.