The Kroger Co. is one of several food companies being held legally responsible for a man developing a condition some are referring to as "popcorn lung."
Wayne Watson, of Colorado, won a $7.2 million verdict Wednesday after a federal jury found various food companies responsible for Watson's condition, which is possibly linked to inhaling the artificial butter smell of the microwave popcorn he regularly ate. Watson reportedly developed the condition in 2007.
The Kroger Co. told 9 News it plans to appeal the decision.
Watson and his attorneys argued the companies listed in the suit failed to warn consumers that the buttery scent of the popcorn could put them at risk of lung injury.
"It's the truth. And that's why we won this case. Because the truth was on our side," Watson said. Watson claims to have lost about 50 percent of his lung capacity since he developed the condition.
Watson's attorney, Ken McClain, added: "I think that, unfortunately, is the history of our country. That large verdicts ... tend to get companies to do what's right."
In addition to Kroger, Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. and Dillon Companies Inc. were included in the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the defense argued that Watson, who previously settled claims against the flavor developer FONA International Inc. (formerly Flavors of North America Inc.), developed his health problems as a result of years of working with carpet-cleaning chemicals, not his popcorn consumption.
Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. issued the following statement after the verdict:
Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. has manufactured and provided safe, quality microwave popcorn to consumers for over two decades. We are certainly very disappointed by the decision of the jury in this case in light of the very clear evidence which was presented, including the millions of consumers who have safely used and enjoyed microwave popcorn since it was introduced. We are currently evaluating our next steps in this matter and will assert all rights available to us under the law.
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The House voted on Wednesday to cut food stamps by $2 billion a year as part of a wide-ranging farm bill.