A Cook County jury has delivered the biggest verdict ever in a "popcorn lung" case: $30.4 million.
Factory worker Gerardo Solis, 45, of South Elgin, won the award after alleging his lung disease was caused by exposure to diacetyl, a chemical used in the making of butter-flavored microwave popcorn and other foods. It has been linked to health problems by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Solis has bronchiolitis obliterans, which makes it difficult to breathe. He is awaiting a lung transplant, said his lawyer, Ken McClain.
Last month's verdict is against BASF Corp., which "allowed workers to be used as blue-collar guinea pigs," McClain said.
Solis worked for about 18 years at area firms that used diacetyl in the making of microwave popcorn, cake mix, ice cream and other foods.
One of the firms -- Flavorchem of Downers Grove -- was supplied with diacetyl by BASF of Wyandotte, Mich., McClain said.
Solis' lungs were already damaged by the time he joined Flavorchem, McClain said. However, the jury took note that his lungs deteriorated even more while there, and that BASF AG, the German parent of BASF, did a 1993 study on rats that showed diacetyl caused lung damage but did not disclose the findings, McClain said.
Fifteen other employers or suppliers in the case settled out of court. BASF plans to appeal, a spokeswoman said.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You