Colorado man tells his story after winning $7.2 million in ‘popcorn lung’ lawsuit

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By: Marika Lorraine, FOX31 Denver

DENVER -- The Centennial man who got sick from inhaling fumes from too many bags of microwave popcorn may end up with millions. A jury in federal court found in his favor on Wednesday and awarded him $7.2 million.

FOX31 Denver first told you about 59-year-old Wayne Watson in 2007. Doctors at National Jewish Hospital in Denver diagnosed him with bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung.”

Watson says, "The bigger victory rather than the money is the fact that they got rid of the diacetyle in their popcorn and no other consumer will have to go through what I've been through."

He's the first consumer in the United States to win a lawsuit related to "popcorn lung."

Watson ate up to three bags a day of the individual brand popcorn for ten years. It was the chemical that created that smell that was the problem.

He says, “I would savor that aroma like people savor the aroma of a hot cup of coffee in the morning."

Wayne developed constricted bronchial tubes and inflamed lungs which led to his diagnosis of a lung disease similar to that found in workers at the factory where they make the popcorn. "It takes very little exertion to make me very tired and very winded," he says.

Watson’s Attorney, Kenneth McClain says, “You open the bag, a whiff comes out, and it's gone. That was enough to cause him to lose 60% of his lung function."

King Soopers’ spokeswoman Kelli McGannon says at this time, they intend to appeal the decision. In the meantime, Watson has a warning for all of us. He says, "Be careful when you buy something. Make sure you know what you are putting your body."