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Judge Ends $800M Cell Phone Lawsuit
Baltimore Sun
September 30, 2002

A federal judge in Baltimore Monday threw out an $800 million lawsuit filed by Jarrettsville physician Christopher J. Newman, who claims cellular telephones caused his brain tumor.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that none of the evidence submitted by Newman was substantial enough to warrant a trial.

The $45 billion-a-year wireless industry has been watching the case closely because if allowed to go forward, it could have opened the door to other lawsuits.

No other such claims filed over the past decade have succeeded so far.

Newman, 42, a neurologist, claims the older, analog cell phone he used from 1992 to 1998 caused his brain cancer. He learned in 1998, after losing sight in one eye the year before, that he had a malignant brain tumor.

Blake ruled that, while there is evidence that radiation from cell phones may cause cancer, there are many more studies that show no relationship between tumors and cell phones.

Newman's attorney, John C.A. Angelos, nephew of Peter G. Angelos, said he was disappointed by the ruling.

"He is disappointed, as we are," Angelos said. "We didn't pass the standard."

The case -- filed against industry giant Motorola Inc., wireless carrier Cellular One and several other cellular phone firms -- was heard before Blake during a five-day proceeding earlier this year.

Blake, a Clinton appointee who has served on the District Court bench in Baltimore since 1995, also is presiding over a group of class-action lawsuits brought by Angelos against the wireless industry that would force cell phone manufacturers to provide headsets to mobile phone users to protect against possible health risks.

The Newman case is expected to also inform Blake's decisions in those cases.

Blake ruled that even though Newman's attorneys presented scientific evidence showing that analog phones may cause tumors, it was overwhelmed by evidence that shows no relationship between cell phone radiation and cancer.

"In addition to these epidemiologic studies, and the consensus expressed by the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], the defendants have proffered reports from numerous international organizations, finding no reliable evidence of cancer causation from exposure to wireless handheld phones," Blake said in the ruling.

Three major studies published since December 2000, including one by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, showed cell phones -- used by 100 million Americans -- don't cause adverse health effects.

Digital phones emit radiation in pulses; older analog varieties emit continuous waves. By the time cell phones exploded in popularity in the late 1990s, most of those sold used digital technology.

Newman's attorneys pegged much of their lawsuit on research by Swedish oncologist Lennart Hardell, who published a study in this month's European Journal of Cancer Prevention that found long-term users of analog cell phones were at least 30 percent more likely than nonusers to develop brain tumors.

But Blake questioned Hardell's methodology and cited several studies that rejected those findings.

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