Ken McClain is an attorney with the Independence-based Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, who two weeks ago earned a $7.5 million verdict for his client in a case against a popcorn butter manufacturer in northern Iowa.


Ken McClain is an attorney with the Independence-based Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, who two weeks ago earned a $7.5 million verdict for his client in a case against a popcorn butter manufacturer in northern Iowa.

1 How did you end up involved as the plaintiff’s attorney in all of these popcorn butter cases?
Remember that these cases first arose in Jasper, Missouri. I had verdicts of $20 million, $15 million, $15 million and $2.7 million there and as a result I got cases all across the country. With success across the country other lawyers simply referred their cases to me.

2 You have now won more than $55 million in verdicts for plaintiffs suing manufacturers over hazardous conditions working at popcorn butter plants, besides helping families who have suffered, how are these judgments making a difference in the industry?
As a result of the judgments the entire industry changed. New safety procedures were introduced in the plants and ultimately the microwave popcorn was re-formulated to have a butter flavor without diacetyl, the chemical which was thought to cause the disease.

3 Typically, what percentage of the judgment sum does the law firm get in high-profile tort cases such as these?
It varies by jurisdictions and referral arrangement with other lawyers. Let’s just say it has been enough to pay the bills, which are substantial.

4 Besides a rooting interest for the hometown law firm, one might suppose it is good for our community each time you and your firm win a large settlement in court. Does your success in the court room help back your efforts to revitalize the Square and the 14 plus businesses you own there?
Some have likened me to Robin Hood. Taking from bad companies to give to Independence. Certainly the things we have done here would not be possible without our law practice.

5 After all of these popcorn butter cases, you must be something of an expert on microwave popcorn and its health risks. Is your family allowed to have butter-flavored popcorn at home?
Yes, although we don’t eat it often. I would caution people not to breathe the fumes when making it. Open it and pour it into a bowl in a well ventilated room but don’t breathe it.