Handful Of Law Firms Continue To Press Brain Cancer Lawsuits
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
March 24, 2003
Plaintiffs' lawyers are leaning toward an appeal of U.S. District Judge
Catherine Blake's dismissal of five class-action lawsuits on headset health
protection and say they have no plans to drop a slew of brain-cancer
lawsuits pending before a Baltimore judge who has been hostile to wireless
health litigation and highly supportive of industry's federal pre-emption
The legal developments come as two newly published studies by Swedish
scientists, including one whose testimony was debunked in the $800 million
cancer suit thrown out by Blake last year, link cell-phone use to brain
Meanwhile, Reuters reported data from a conference in Italy pointing to a
40-percent increase in brain tumors in the United States and Europe in the
past 20 years.
Still, the decision to continue pressing health litigation, despite Blake's
dismissal of Christopher Newman's brain-cancer lawsuit and her recent
headset ruling, remains a high-risk proposition for plaintiffs' lawyers. The
costs can be huge, both in terms of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in
legal expenses and judicial precedent. But those costs pale in comparison to
the risk to industry, which has spent millions defending itself the past two
decades, of losing a single case.
A handful of law firms are pressing the brain-cancer and headset
class-action lawsuits. In some cases, they work together and in others they
"We intend to go forward," said Jeffrey Morganroth, whose Michigan law firm
represents six brain-cancer victims who have filed lawsuits against wireless
firms, trade associations and standards bodies.
Morganroth conceded the mobile-phone industry has fared well in Blake's
court to date. But he said all brain-cancer cases are not the same and that
the ruling on the Newman case, litigated by the law firm of Baltimore
Orioles owner Peter Angelos and under appeal in a Richmond circuit, does not
necessarily dictate the outcome of his law firm's cases.
"We have a different philosophy of how to present and package the cases,"
said Morganroth. Morganroth said his legal team will be relying on a
different set of experts than those Angelos relied on in the Newman case.
However, it is not clear that Morganroth's experts have committed to having
their research and scientific careers scrutinized by industry lawyers who
were highly effective in undermining testimony of Newman's experts.
At least one other plaintiff is expressing more caution. Lawyers
representing a Texas brain-cancer victim recently asked Blake to stay all
further proceedings in its lawsuit against wireless firms, pending the
outcome of the Newman appeal in Richmond. The final brief in the appeal
should be filed today. The court then likely will set a date for oral
argument, which is expected to take place later this year.
Elsewhere, RCR Wireless News learned last week that Georgia's Brian Barrett,
a plaintiff in one brain-cancer case before Blake, died last November.
However, the lawsuit will continue on behalf of his estate and his wife.