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$2.6m Awarded in Popcorn Lung Lawsuit

By June 9, 2015 August 2nd, 2022 No Comments

On January 30, a California jury awarded $2.6 million to a man who claims to have lost 60% of his lung capacity after being exposed to a food flavoring chemical produced at the factory he worked at.

According to an article appearing online in, Tanu Vatuvei, 30, was exposed to the chemical diacetyl, used to flavor microwave popcorn, while he worked at the Mission Flavors Fragrances Inc. plant in Foothill Ranch, California. This led to his diagnosis with bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease which has become commonly known as “popcorn lung” because it has affected multiple food factory workers when they make butter flavoring for microwave popcorn.

Mr. Vatuvei’s disease causes bronchial tissues to become scarred, greatly diminishing lung capacity. There is no way to reverse this scarring. Currently, Mr Vatuvei reports that he has only 40 percent lung capacity.

Mr. Vatuvei filed suit against Citrus and Allied Essences Ltd., the company which supplied the diacetyl to the food factory where he worked for more than a decade. He and his attorneys claimed that the company knew of the dangers of diacetyl inhalation, but that they failed to warn of them. Other defendants were also named, but most settled outside of court before the jury trial began.

After a four-week trial, the jury found in favor of Mr. Vatuvei and awarded him $2.6 million in damages. Mr. Vatuvei is not alone: multiple food factory workers have come forward after being diagnosed with “popcorn lung”. Though diacetyl is no longer used to make microwave popcorn flavoring, individuals diagnosed with this condition still have the right to pursue compensation for their suffering. To learn more about popcorn lung lawsuits, contact a personal injury attorney for a free legal consultation.