Sep. 19, 2012 at 7:56 PM ET
A suburban Denver man who was diagnosed with "popcorn lung," possibly from inhaling the artificial butter smell of the microwave popcorn he regularly ate, has won a $7.2 million verdict against various food companies.
Wayne Watson's attorney, Ken McClain, said a federal jury granted the award Wednesday against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc. after he developed respiratory problems in 2007.
Watson previously settled claims against the flavor developer FONA International Inc., formerly Flavors of North America Inc.
Watson argued the companies failed to warn consumers that inhaling the buttery aroma could put them at risk of lung injury.
KCNC-TV in Denver reports defense attorneys had argued Watson's health problems stemmed not from popcorn but from his years of working with carpet-cleaning chemicals.
Watson was diagnosed with respiratory problems in 2007.
“Who would ever reasonably think that popping popcorn in your own home, no matter how it’s packaged or processed, would all of a sudden turn into an agent for toxic lung disease,” Watson told CBS4 in 2010.
The verdict came after a day and half of deliberations in Denver federal court.
Previously quality testers in popcorn factories had won or settled lawsuits worth millions of dollars after claiming health issues from inhaling the flavoring.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.