Popcorn Lung Injury Caused by Diacetyl

In this case, we were hired as local San Antonio counsel to represent a woman injured by fake butter flavoring. This is an injury often seen in popcorn factory workers and can cause damage necessitating lung transplants.


Speaker: Welcome to Hill Law Firm cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill law firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.


Sometimes we get to work on really out-there cases. I say out-there, in that, people don’t even know this is going on behind the scenes. One of these cases is what’s called a popcorn lung case. Some people found out a few years ago, maybe a decade ago, that popcorn workers were developing a lung injury. A lung injury that’s pretty rare. It’s called blood bronchiolitis obliterates or popcorn lung.

It was called popcorn lung because it was something being seen among popcorn factory workers. After digging into it, it was determined that something called diacetyl was causing this condition. Diacetyl is used in a lot of different products in the popcorn industry. It is a fake butter flavoring. It is something that should not be inhaled. However, when it’s heated, it can be vaporized. What this has led to is a lot of factory workers who end up with a debilitating lung condition that sometimes requires lung transplants, but it doesn’t heal and it does not get better.

My law firm was able to work with another out-of-town law firm on one of these cases. This case was different. It didn’t involve a factory worker. It involved a lady who worked at a popcorn store. A lady that had worked at a popcorn store in a mall for almost 20 years. Day to day, 40 to 60 hours a week. She was using this chemical not knowing that it could cause her this condition and that this chemical could cause her to wind up on a lung transplant list, which is where she currently is.

Injured workers are something we feel very passionate about at our law firm. Workers too often are taken advantage of either purposely or purposely kept in the dark about the dangers that they’re dealing with day-to-day. This case is still ongoing. It’s a case that has had somewhere close to 80 defendants. Most of them have resolved their claims but some of them are still fighting it.

It’s one of my great joys in life to be able to represent injured workers in cases involving product liability. It’s something I’m very passionate about. We represent people that are injured by dangerous products and this case is one of those cases that many people don’t even know exists. We’ve had judges lift their eyebrows and require a long explanation because it’s new to them, but that’s what employers hope happens.

They hope that they’re able to injure people under the radar and not get caught. This isn’t all employers. Most employers do their job and they care about the safety of their employees but the ones that don’t, they don’t want to be held responsible. It’s a great joy when we’re able to hold them responsible.

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