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Cell Phone Safety Lawsuits Revived
Internet News, March 18, 2005
by Roy Mark
federal appeals court ruled Thursday cell phone makers could be sued in
state court over claims that wireless equipment emits unsafe levels of
radio frequency radiation.
The decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court reverses a previous decision
that the issue belongs in federal court and pre-empts state law.
A spat of lawsuits over the last few years have been filed in state
courts from Maryland to Louisiana contending that wireless equipment
makers are liable under state laws for the possible health effects of
mobile phone use. Although there have been no conclusive studies, some
health advocates maintain mobile phone use can lead to brain tumors.
The equipment makers contend the matter belongs in federal court in
order to avoid dealing with lawsuits in 50 different state courts. Last
March, a Baltimore judge ruled that federal standards on radiation
emissions established by the Federal Communications Commission
pre-empts state law claims.
Thursday's decision reverses that ruling. "Although this certainly does
not mean that plaintiffs alleging health and safety harms will
necessarily win at the end of the day, it does mean that carriers and
equipment manufacturers will be involved in more litigation and the
outcome of that litigation will be more uncertain," a Legg Mason
research note issued Thursday states.
In January, Britain's National Radiological Protection Board
issued a report saying mobile phone users should take care to use a headset with cell phones. The
independent advisory group is concerned that cell phones placed
directly against head puts the brain too close to possible harmful
A contrary report was issued the next month by Finland's Radiation and
Nuclear Safety Authority contending that radiation emitted by cell
phone cells is well within safety levels.
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