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Vodafone Is Named In US Tumour Suit
Financial Times
Journalist: Gautam Malkani
November 17, 2001

Vodafone has been named in the latest US lawsuit against the mobile phone industry filed on behalf of a brain cancer victim.

It is believed to be the first time Vodafone has been listed as a defendant in health-related litigation that is emerging in the US over concerns about radiation emitted by mobile phones.

The latest personal injury lawsuit was filed on Thursday in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia by Morganroth & Morganroth, a law firm based in Michigan and New York.

It was filed on behalf of Michael Murray, a 34-year-old brain tumour victim from Illinois, and is one of dozens of cases in preparation.

Although there has been no proof that mobile phones cause adverse health effects, the cases will follow some five personal injury cases and as many class action lawsuits previously filed across the US.

The latest plaintiff is seeking compensation, punitive and other damages totalling more than Dollars 1bn (Pounds 600m).

Although this week's lawsuit names sixteen defendants in total Vodafone is the only one based outside the US.

Vodafone said it could not comment on the latest case as it had not received the writ. However, it said that - despite reports to the contrary - "Vodafone Group has not been named in any previous cases".

Previous lawsuits have named Verizon, the US company of which Vodafone owns 45 per cent, but this time Vodafone Airtouch - the UK operator's former name - is listed separately.

The writ argues that Vodafone owns 45 per cent of Cellco Partnership, which is majority-owned by Verizon. Cellco, in a former incarnation, sold Mr Murray his second mobile phone in 1996. It is understood the plaintiff's attorneys view this structure as equivalent to Vodafone owning Cellco.

The writ accuses the industry of misrepresentation, negligence, product liability and conspiracy. It argues the defendants failed reasonably to test the safety of mobile phones before marketing them. It also lists more than 10 patents received by various mobile phone companies between 1991 and 2000 for minimising radiation exposure or alerting users to high levels.

Mobile phone companies have argued the patents addressed efficiency rather than health risks.

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