Jury awards $7.5 million to former microwave popcorn worker
A federal court jury in northern Iowa on Thursday awarded a former microwave popcorn worker $7.5 million against Givaudan Flavors.
Ronald Kuiper, who passed away Wednesday afternoon, was formerly employed at American Popcorn Company as a butter flavor mixer. He had been diagnosed with the rare lung condition called broncholitis obliterans, which has been linked to artificial butter flavor exposure.
“Once again, a jury found that a butter flavor manufacturer sold a dangerous product,” said Independence, Mo., attorney Ken McClain of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain in a news release.
McClain has represented workers all over the country in similar suits. Verdicts of $20 million, $15 million, $15 million and $2.7 million have been rendered for other microwave popcorn workers in cases tried in Missouri.
Ronald and Conley Kuiper sued the flavoring manufacturer for selling butter flavor containing diacetyl, a chemical that has been found by the National Institute of Safety and Health to cause severe lung injury.
The American Popcorn Company was not a defendant. The jury found that Givaudan was fully responsible for the injury.
“Unfortunately, these cases could have all been prevented,” McClain said.
At trial the jury heard evidence that Givaudan Flavors had eight cases of bronchiolitis obliterans in its plant in Cincinnati where the flavor was made before Kuiper went to work at American Popcorn in Sioux City.
The jury heard evidence for 11 trial days beginning on Feb. 18. The jury deliberated for six days before rendering the unanimous verdict.
Five additional cases are pending in Iowa and are set for trial this July. Across the country more than 300 cases are pending in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Colorado, Maryland and Washington.