In what is believed to be the largest individual verdict in a popcorn lung disease case, a Chicago jury awarded $30.4 million to a plant worker who was exposed to the butter flavoring chemical diacetyl, causing irreversible lung damage. The verdict was against diacetyl supplier BASF Corp. The Plaintiff, 45-year-old Geraldo Solis, was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans in 2006. After working in butter flavor processing plants for nearly 20 years, he now has only 25% of normal lung capacity. His illness is incurable, and the man is currently awaiting a lung transplant.
BASF knew back in 1993 that diacetyl would cause significant lung disease, but it refused to tell anyone. Mr. Solis worked at a number of flavoring companies throughout his life. He was working at a Chicago processing plant when he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans. He filed suit against more than a dozen companies, including the factories where he was employed and the suppliers of the chemicals used to manufacture the butter flavoring. Settlements were reached with all Defendants except BASF Corp. and the case was tried against that Defendant.
During the trial, the testimony of medical experts on the dangers of diacetyl was very important. The key piece of evidence was a study conducted by BASF AG, the Defendant’s German parent company, back in 1993. It was found in that study that rats exposed to diacetyl developed severe lung disease. The company failed to disclose the results of that study. That failure put workers like Mr. Solis in danger from exposure to the chemical. The defense lawyers argued that there was no proof that the man’s illness was caused by diacetyl, and that he was already suffering with respiratory problems before he was exposed to the chemical.
I understand a $350,000 settlement offer from the Defendant was rejected by the Plaintiff before the trial began. The jury found in Mr. Solis’ favor, assessing compensatory damages of $32 million. The jurors found him 5% at fault for his injuries because he continued to work in butter flavoring plants after he first began suffering symptoms. $1.6 million was deducted from the total verdict as a result. Kenneth B. McClain of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, a law firm from Independence, Missouri, represented the Plaintiff and he did a good job.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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