Irreversible Idiocy

Maybe the plaintiff shouldn’t have had that third bag of popcorn?

"Popcorn lung" lawsuits, like any great works of fiction, always contain one particularly memorable line, usually inserted when the lawyer involved has to make the case that his or her client is the biggest popped-kernel addict the world has ever seen."He'd lap it out of the bowl like a dog would," is how Spokane attorney Richard Eymann put it to KING 5 News, describing the five-to-seven-bag-a-day habit that, Eymann says, led his client to develop bronchiolitis obliterans, otherwise known as "popcorn lung."The condition is basically a nastier form of asthma. And it's caused, scientists believe, by diacetyl, a chemical used to give microwave popcorn its buttery flavor.In 2008, big popcorn producers like ConAgra removed diacetyl. Since then, a number of lawsuits have been filed by consumers such as Agnes Mercado of Queens, who claims the three bags a day she ate for 16 years have contributed to an irreversible lung disease that will require a transplant. Eymann's client, Larry Newkirk—whose case goes to trial in U.S. District Court in Spokane on July 6—was the first consumer to make such a claim.There is a big difference between the suits filed by compulsive eaters like Mercado and the ones brought by ConAgra employees who spent years being exposed to the chemical in factories. The former had the choice not to eat that third bag (or the first); the latter were hurt just by going to work.Unlike cigarettes or asbestos, which do damage to passive users, "popcorn lung" only afflicts those who'd blow Orville to get some Redenbacher. And given how much non-food is in our food these days, it's likely that eating a metric ton of any processed crap is potentially lethal.Maybe there's such a thing as licorice lung, but it hasn't been discovered yet because most people aren't willing to eat their body weight in Good & Plentys. Maybe there's an additive in Heinz 57 that turns you cross-eyed and bowlegged if you suck down a bottle a day.Or maybe when your mom said "moderation in everything," she was giving you the best advice you'd ever get. And maybe that bowl just didn't need to be licked in the first place.

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