Five lawsuits against International Flavors and Fragrances have been moved from Jasper County Circuit Court into federal court.
The lawsuit filed by Lawanna Arthur was removed from the local court Thursday and lawsuits filed by Anna and Edward Rea, rural Greenfield; Oma Baker, Golden City; Ronald Bennett, Lamar; and Christy and Ronald Walker, Jasper; were removed Friday, according to federal court records.
Those suits were all brought by former employees of the Jasper Popcorn Company against the company that owns the Jasper plant. Each of the former employees is suffering from severe respiratory ailments that have been traced to materials used in the plant.
The lawsuits are among 28 filed against International Flavors and Fragrances.
One lawsuit, filed by Linda Redman, Joplin, was settled just before the jury returned a verdict on April 30, 2004. Another Jasper County jury ruled in favor of Eric and Cassandra Peeples, Carthage, and awarded them $20 million, $18 to Peoples and $2 million to his wife.
A third Jasper County jury ruled in favor of International Flavors and Fragrances in a suit brought by former workers Dustin Smith, 25, Alba; Evelyn Standhardt, 60, Carthage; Marge Unruh, 51, Jasper; and Velma Ingalls, 34, Iantha.
The lawsuits claim that the butter flavoring used at the Jasper plant contains the chemical diacetyl, which according to health experts caused the workers to contract bronchilotis obliterans, a rare lung disease that cuts off the airways and causes shortness of breath.