News brief: Jury rules against popcorn employees

A jury in Carthage, MO, has ruled against four popcorn factory employees in the third of a series of lawsuits by workers who claim a butter flavoring caused disabling lung injuries. Flavoring makers International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. and its subsidiary Bush Boake Allen Inc. were not responsible for the injuries at the plant, the jury ruled. All four plaintiffs said they contracted the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans, a widespread obstruction of the small airways. In all, 30 people who worked at the plant have filed suit over the flavoring used there, with 27 lawsuits still pending.

In March, jurors awarded a total of $20 million in damages to a married couple who worked at the plant. The following month, a confidential settlement was reached before the jury could rule in a second trial. The lawsuits contend the flavoring manufacturers knew about the dangers but didn’t give warning. The defendants said they were unaware of risk and suggested there is not enough evidence to prove their product caused the disease.