May 16, 2016

Florida Appellate Court Upholds Defense Verdict in Popcorn Lung Injury Case

1-1213888363xaFYIn the recent case of Stults v. International Flavors, a federal appellate court dismissed the plaintiff's lawsuits on the basis that the plaintiff failed to make timely objections to certain things at trial, thereby waiving the right to challenge the alleged errors on appeal. At trial, the parties can make objections to conduct from opposing parties or decisions that the judge makes either during the proceedings or in response to motions. If a party fails to make a timely objection, the party waives the right to challenge the decision on appeal following the trial. Although this is a procedural rule, it has major implications for the outcome of your claim.

In Stults, the plaintiff reported eating an average of one to three packages of microwaveable popcorn every day for two decades. Eventually, the plaintiff was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung condition resulting in scarring and inflammation in the lungs. The plaintiff experienced numerous symptoms associated with the disease, including incessant coughing and difficulty breathing.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the company that manufactures the popcorn, claiming that the ingredient it uses to create a buttery flavor was known to cause bronchiolitis obliterans. During trial, both parties offered extensive testimony from expert witnesses regarding how the plaintiff developed the condition. The defense argued that the plaintiff developed it through an auto-immune disorder, while the plaintiff's expert testified that the disease was the sole result of the plaintiff's exposure to the buttery flavoring ingredient.

The parties made several objections to the experts' testimony and the trial judge issued a number of rulings. Some of the rulings prevented the plaintiff's expert from testifying regarding advantageous facts, while allowing the defense's expert to testify about facts that controverted the plaintiff's claims. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense and the plaintiff appealed.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's evidentiary rulings based on the plaintiff's failure to object to each evidentiary ruling as it was occurring. The appellate court recited the basic rule that an appellate court will only review a lower court's ruling or opinion where the issue was raised by objection during the lower court proceeding. In other words, if a party fails to make an objection at trial within a reasonable time after the allegedly objectionable ruling, the appellate court will not be able to review the ruling. This case serves as an excellent example of how critical it is to have an experienced, seasoned, and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer representing you and your family in court.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of another person's or company's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, our dedicated product liability lawyers have handled numerous lawsuits for Southwest Florida residents in Naples, Fort Myers, and Cape Coral. We have substantial courtroom experience and know exactly what it takes to protect your interests both when it comes to settlement and when it comes to a potential appeal. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your legal remedies. Call us now at 1-800-283-7442 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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