A plaintiff recently won a $7.2 million judgment against a supermarket chain owner and the Gilster-Mary Lee and Dillon Companies regarding injuries from microwave popcorn. He alleged that the companies either made or distributed microwave popcorn that contained a harmful chemical. This chemical, called diacetyl, gives microwave popcorn its distinctive “butter” flavor. Unfortunately, this chemical has also been linked to a serious lung disease. Many workers at microwave popcorn plants and flavoring plants have fallen victim to this disease. In fact, the disease (bronchiolitis obliterans) is probably better known by its nickname, “popcorn lung disease.”
The plaintiff’s microwave popcorn lawsuit was based on a failure to warn theory.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit was based on a failure to warn theory. He alleged that the microwave popcorn maker and distributor never warned consumers that diacetyl was dangerous. The plaintiff believes that the defendants failed to warn about the dangers associated with diacetyl because they did not think that a consumer would ever be exposed to enough of the chemical to cause injuries.
But, the plaintiff said that he ate two bags of microwave popcorn every day. That consumption was enough to significantly impact his health. He developed the rare lung disease suffered by microwave popcorn plant workers. The plaintiff claimed that this lung disease was caused by the inhalation of the butter-flavored aroma found in microwave popcorn. The jury sided with the plaintiff.
This case is believed to be the first win for a consumer in a diacetyl-related matter. Given the plaintiff’s success in this lawsuit, similar lawsuits brought by consumers may be likely.
What is a failure to warn case?
The maker and/or distributor of a product must warn consumers of known dangers associated with the product. Labels should be used to explain the dangers associated with the product. If a product maker fails to warn of such dangers, the maker may be held legally liable for any resulting injuries.
For example, in a popcorn lung matter, a plaintiff might argue that a microwave popcorn manufacturer knew of the danger posed by diacetyl. The plaintiff would show that the manufacturer was aware of studies that linked the chemical to popcorn lung disease. The plaintiff might also demonstrate that the manufacturer knew of workers at the manufacturer’s facilities who contracted this disease. The plaintiff would then show that the manufacturer had a duty to consumers to warn them that excessive consumption of microwave popcorn and prolonged and frequent exposure to the product could cause a consumer to develop a serious lung condition or other related ailments.
Our Illinois personal injury attorneys can help you with your popcorn lung concerns.
If you are dealing with a serious lung disease and believe you may have contracted the lung disease because of your consumption of microwave popcorn, contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Office LLC. We represent clients in product liability cases, and we would like to discuss your situation with you.If you would like to speak to our Illinois personal injury attorneys, contact us by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email.