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SIOUX CITY -- A federal jury has awarded a former microwave popcorn worker $7.5 million against Givaudan Flavors, a news release from the plaintiffs' lawyer says. The case was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett.

Ronald Kuiper, who died Wednesday afternoon, was formerly employed at American Popcorn Co. in Sioux City as a butter -flavor mixer. He had been diagnosed with the rare lung condition broncholitis obliterans, which has been linked to artificial butter flavor exposure.

American Popcorn Co. was not a defendant. The jury found that Givaudan was fully responsible for the injury.

Ronald and Conley Kuiper sued the flavoring manufacturer for selling butter flavor containing diacetyl, a chemical that has been found by the National Institute of Safety and Health to cause severe lung injury.

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During the trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Sioux City, the jury heard evidence that Givaudan Flavors had eight cases of bronchiolitis obliterans in its plant in Cincinnati, where the flavor was made, before Kuiper went to work at American Popcorn, according to the release from attorney Kenneth B. McClain of Independence, Mo.

Trial testimony lasted 11 days, and the jury deliberated for six days, McClain said.

Five additional cases are pending in Iowa and are set for trial in July, the release says. Across the country, more than 300 cases are pending in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Colorado, Maryland and Washington, according to McClain.

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