$30 MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT RETURNED IN COOK COUNTY IN "POPCORN LUNG" CASE
Didn’t see much coverage of this in the local press, probably because of the Blago insanity. But this week a Cook County jury awarded $30.4 million dollars to Geraldo Solis, who suffers from bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung disease”. Popcorn lung disease typically affects workers exposed to substances used in the manufacture of microwave popcorn and other foodstuffs. The disease is irreversible and affects the lungs, causing constriction and ultimately blocking the passage of air.
Solis alleged that while working for a Downers Grove compay, he was exposed to fumes and dust from artificial butter flavoring. He was diagnosed with popcorn lung in 2006. Presently, he has only 25% lung capacity. Absent a lung transplant, the flu could kill him.
Solis filed suit against a number of companies that supplied flavored chemicals to the plant where he worked. All of the companies save BASF Corporation settled. BASF supplied Diacetyl to the Downers Grove facilty. Diacetyl is a flavoring chemical that has been linked to popcorn lung. After a two week trial the jury awared $32 million to Solis, but decreased the award slightly claiming Solis was 5% contributorily negligent. The defense claimed that Solis’ lungs were already significantly compromised when he went to work in Downers Grove, and that BASF hadn’t caused the disease. Missouri attorney Kenneth McClain, who represented Solis noted that the jury didn’t buy the defense arguments. Additionally, there was evidence that Solis got much sicker after the BASF product was introduced. BASF has vowed to appeal.