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Jury Awards $15 Million in Making of Popcorn

Sep 3, 2005 | Kansas City Star

A jury on Friday awarded a former popcorn-plant worker $15 million after finding that his exposure to butter-flavoring fumes led to his severe respiratory problems.

The verdict brings to nearly $53 million the total amount awarded in the last two years against the makers of the popcorn flavoring, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. of New York and a subsidiary, Bush Boake Allen Inc.

Four other plaintiffs reached confidential settlements with the defendants last year.

The plant where the plaintiffs worked, the Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. microwave popcorn factory in Jasper, Mo., has paid the employees workers’ compensation and has not been named as a defendant in any of the actions.

The latest case was filed by Carthage, Mo., resident Stephen McNeely, 35, a machine operator who filled popcorn bags with salt and butter flavoring. McNeely, who worked at the plant from 1989 to 2001, developed bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare, progressive lung disease that may require him to get a lung transplant.

McNeely is one of about 30 former and current workers at the Jasper plant who have sued International Flavors and Bush Boake Allen. At least 20 more cases are awaiting trial.

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