JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A factory worker who claimed his lungs were ruined as a result of mixing flavoring oils used in microwave popcorn was awarded $20 million by a jury Monday.
Eric Peoples, 32, was the first of 30 former workers at the Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. plant in Jasper to have his suit heard against the two makers of the butter flavoring. Following a morning of closing arguments, the jury deliberated for a little more than three hours before returning the verdict.
Peoples cried and hugged his wife, Cassandra, as the jury ruled against International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. and its subsidiary Bush Boake Allen Inc., the manufacturers of the flavoring.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health also has linked exposure to vapors from butter flavoring to lung disease in popcorn factory workers in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.