Federal Health Lawsuits
Remanded Back To States
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
May 30, 2007
A federal judicial panel has
conditionally remanded a brain cancer lawsuit and class action headset
lawsuit against mobile phone companies to courts in Florida and
District Judge Catherine Blake of Baltimore earlier this month
recommended to the Judicial Panel on Mulitdistrict Litigation that the
brain cancer lawsuit—Louther v. AT&T Inc.—return to federal court
in Florida and the headset lawsuit—Farina v. Nokia Corp. et al.—be sent
back to a federal court in Pennsylvania.
Mobile phone industry
defendants in both cases have less than two weeks to oppose the
remanding decisions. If the JPML affirms its May 24 conditional remand,
there is likely to be a new round of legal sparring over whether the
two suits should stay in federal court or return to state courts where
they were originally filed several years ago.
cleared her plate of the two remaining health-related wireless lawsuits
is a setback for the cellular industry, which convinced the federal
judge to throw out an $800 million brain cancer lawsuit against
Motorola Inc. and others in 2002 and five class action headset lawsuits
in early 2003. Christopher Newman, the plaintiff in the brain cancer
lawsuit whose case failed to go to trial after Blake ruled scientific
evidence was lacking, died in May 2006. The Farina lawsuit seeks to
force cellular operators to supply consumers with hands-free headsets
to reduce their exposure to phone radiation and to compensate consumers
who have already purchased headsets.
Meantime, the Superior
Court of the District of Columbia may be getting closer to deciding
whether six brain cancer lawsuits against the mobile phone industry
will go forward or be dismissed. Wireless firms asked the court to
throw out the cases in 2004.
Government health authorities in
the United States and other countries say research to date does not
point to a link between cellphone use and cancer, but they add that
more investigation is needed to address studies showing biological
effects—adverse or otherwise—from mobile phone radiation.
Food and Drug Administration has legal jurisdiction over mobile phone
safety, though the wireless industry is bound by human exposure limits
established by government and industry experts and subsequently adopted
by the Federal Communications Commission.