Another report on
the cell phone lawsuit filed Friday by Peter Angelos.
Class-action suit filed against cell-phone makers
by George A.
Chidi Jr., IDG News Service\Boston Bureau
already fighting personal injury lawsuits filed by a neurologist claiming
his mobile phone caused his brain cancer now will face a Baltimore attorney
who achieved legal fame with victories over
Peter Angelos filed class-action lawsuits against Motorola Inc., Verizon Wireless Inc. and 23 other wireless companies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York on Thursday, charging that the companies knew of health risks, including the possibility of brain tumors, to cell-phone users, but failed to warn them. The lawsuits seek to require the companies to provide free earpieces for every cell phone, reimbursement for the cost of an earpiece for those who bought one, and unspecified punitive damages.
The suits do not allege that cell phones absolutely cause brain cancer, but contend that manufacturers have known of health risks, but have done nothing to address them.
"We think this is a serious matter, and that something should be done about it," said Russell Smouse, a lawyer in Angelos' firm who is pursuing the case.
Mobile-phone antennae produce non-ionizing radio-frequency (RF) energy, the same kind of radiation used in microwave ovens. RF energy of sufficient levels can harm living tissue by heating it to the point of causing damage. However, cell phones produce only six-tenths of a watt of RF energy, several orders of magnitude below that of a microwave oven.
contend that even this much radiation so close to a cell-phone user's
head is potentially dangerous, charging that the manufacturers and
service providers chose not to mitigate the risk by
Angelos has asked that the suits be certified as a class action, which would permit any cell-phone users in the U.S. to join the suit as a plaintiff. The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association trade group estimates 117 million people in the U.S. use cell phones.
Angelos may need to draw from such a large body of potential plaintiffs in order to find brain cancer victims. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about six new cases of brain cancer occur per 100,000 people. FDA studies have shown no increase in the rate of brain cancer occurrences among cell-phone users. Based on that lack of increased occurrence and using the estimated 117 million U.S. cell-phone users, about 7,000 cell-phone users could be expected to have brain cancer nationwide.
The suit was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs, neither of whom have health problems related to cell-phone use, Smouse said. But the plaintiffs want headsets as a preventative measure. In January, Angelos also joined the lawsuit of Christopher Newman, a Baltimore-area neurologist who claims his frequent wireless phone use caused his brain tumor.
The FDA has found no clear connection between cell phone use and the risk of brain cancer Angelos claims, although the regulatory body has said studies to date have been inconclusive and recommended additional research.
this is a new subject, but we've been proactive in providing consumers
with information both in our stores and on our Web site,"
said Nancy Stark, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless Inc.
A Motorola spokesperson
was not available to comment.
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