Cell Phones and Cancer


Radio Frequency Health Lawsuits

move to Baltimore Judge


by JEFFREY SILVA * November 12, 2001


WASHINGTON-The wireless industry as early as this week is expected to get hit with the first wave of lawsuits claiming mobile phones caused the brain cancer of a former Motorola Inc. technician and other heavy cell-phone users.


The litigation likely will be followed by a public-interest lawsuit that alleges federal regulatory agencies have failed to protect the nation’s 123 million wireless subscribers from radiation health risks. Those agencies include the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Communications Commission.


The lawsuits will be filed by a team that includes Baltimore lawyer Joanne Suder and two high-profile Michigan-based trial lawyers, Mike Morganroth and Sheldon Miller. The next cancer lawsuit is expected be filed later this week in the District of Columbia by Michael Murray, a worker who tested mobile phones for Motorola during the 1990s.


Murray has a workers’ compensation claim pending in the Illinois Industrial Commission. A lawyer representing Murray in that proceeding would not confirm whether a lawsuit will be filed this week.


Similar workers’ compensation claims have been filed in California by Mark Hart, a former global marketing director for Neopoint Inc., and by Sharesa Price, a former cell-phone programmer for Advanced Communications Systems, a U.S. Cellular Corp. agent.


At least four additional phone-cancer lawsuits also could be filed in D.C. Superior court by the end of this week or next week, according to a source close to the litigation. The source said more phone-cancer lawsuits would be filed in groups of five during the next six months.


All the lawsuits, which will name as defendants various carriers and manufacturers as well as the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association and the American National Standards Institute, are expected

to be filed in D.C. Superior Court. There is no cap on damages in the District of Columbia.


Last year, Suder filed an $800 million lawsuit on behalf of Christopher Newman, a neurologist and a heavy cell-phone user who was diagnosed with brain cancer. The case, set for a key hearing in February that will focus on the use of scientific experts, was transferred to fellow Baltimore trial lawyer Peter Angelos.


Angelos, who has won hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits against tobacco companies and asbestos manufacturers, is suing makers of audiotape erasing machines, lead paint companies and other firms. In addition, Angelos and other attorneys around the country are involved in five lawsuits aimed at forcing the wireless industry to provide

hands-free headsets with mobile phones and to compensate subscribers who already purchased such devices.


Class-action headset lawsuits initially were filed in five state courts before industry got the cases moved to federal courts. Last month, a federal judicial panel transferred all the headset cases to a Maryland federal court. The cases are now in the hands of Judge Catherine C. Blake, the same Baltimore judge who is handling the Newman phone-cancer case.


Other phone-cancer cases are pending in Georgia, Nevada and California. Industry’s victory in an unsuccessful cancer lawsuit brought by former Motorola engineer Robert Kane is being challenged in an Illinois appeals court. A final hearing on partial settlement in a privacy-phone health case is scheduled for Nov. 20 in an Illinois state court in Chicago. The

settlement would fund the creation of a registry of wireless subscribers who believe they have been injured by cell-phone radiation.


Plaintiffs lawyers may have suffered a setback of sorts as a result of a recent editorial by five scientists in a leading Swedish newspaper that was highly critical of a study conducted by scientist Lennart Hardell. Hardell, who received a lot of media attention after publicizing an epidemiology study that found cell-phone users tended to get tumors on the side of the head where phones are used, is an expert in the Newman case and likely will serve in the same capacity in upcoming phone-cancer lawsuits. “This kind of interpretation seems bizarre in biological terms and is probably based on chance findings. … We think it is generally wrong to discuss pilot studies in the media, as the main study will, by definition, not have been concluded,” stated the scientists in Svenska Dagbladet/Brannpunkt.



For more information, contact:

Libby Kelley

Executive Director

Council on Wireless Technology Impacts

936-B Seventh Street, #206

Novato, CA 94945

415 892-1863 (voice)

415 892-3108 (fax)









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