Plaintiffs in Bizarre Popcorn Lung Case File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
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Plaintiffs in Bizarre Popcorn Lung Case File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

November 13, 2012


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A couple from Carthage, Missouri, who won a $20 million personal injury verdict in a popcorn lung lawsuit several years ago have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to the Joplin Globe.

Sources say that Eric and Cassandra Peoples claim to have more than $600,000 in debt, which includes a mortgage of $482,876 held by U.S. Bank. The couple reportedly built a home for $3.9 million after winning their large settlement.

The massive verdict came after the couple filed a lawsuit in 2004 against International Flavors and Fragrances Inc., as well as Bush Boake Allen Inc., the makers of a butter flavoring created at a popcorn plant where Eric Peoples worked for several years.

In the lawsuit, the couple claimed that Eric Peoples developed bronchiolitis obliterans, a chronic lung disease, thanks to his prolonged exposure to the chemical diacetyl, which is an active ingredient in the butter flavoring used by the company.

The couple’s claim was aided by a medical expert who testified that Peoples would eventually need a lung transplant due to the chemical exposure. Bolstered by similar evidence in his favor, Eric Peoples was awarded $18 million by a jury in Jasper County, Missouri.

In addition, the jury awarded his wife $2 million. Sources say the case launched a series of lawsuits against the three companies responsible for the creation of the butter flavoring.

Sadly, the last eight years for the couple have illustrated the perils of instant wealth, although, to be fair, sources hint that the couple did not necessarily see all of the $20 million because a large amount of it was earmarked for other plaintiffs.

Today, the couple may be forced to sell their home, which consists of 10.5 acres and a large, modern home built after they reached their settlement.

The couple’s debt has reportedly leaped beyond $600,000, and their assets are limited enough to allow them to meet the means test for Chapter 7, which reserves this unique type of bankruptcy for people who need it most.

The couple’s largest debt, other than their mortgage, is owed to the contractor who built their dream home. The contractor claims the Peoples still owe him more than $100,000, according to sources.

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