Cell Phones and Cancer again


Industry asks panel to consolidate cancer suits


July 10, 2002 1:37 PM EST


WASHINGTON””Wireless industry lawyers have petitioned a panel of federal judges here to transfer all pending brain-cancer lawsuits to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake in Baltimore.


Blake already oversees an $800 million cancer lawsuit against industry and a five class-action lawsuits seeking to force wireless firms to supply consumers with hands-free headsets to reduce any health risk from mobile-phone radiation.


The industry request, filed July 3 with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation by Verizon Wireless Inc. attorneys, seeks to put another eight brain-cancer lawsuits before Blake. Five suits are pending in federal court here, while the other two are housed in U.S. district courts in Georgia and Texas.


The latest move by industry is part of a strategy to steer all health litigation to federal court””a more favorable venue than state court insofar as admissibility of scientific experts, jury awards and judicial expertise””and, in this case, to a federal judge deemed by industry to be sympathetic to its arguments.


Wall Street, increasingly bearish on the mobile-phone industry as consumer demand slows and corporate debt mounts in a scandal-ridden environment, is watching the cases closely. The lawsuits collectively seek billions of dollars in damages.





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