Second Report May Influence Health Lawsuit
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
September 16, 2002
The Baltimore federal judge overseeing an $800 million cancer lawsuit
against the wireless industry was alerted by plaintiffs just days ago that
its lead scientific witness will have a second paper published early next
month linking analog cell-phone use to the same type of malignant brain
tumor as that of the 42-year-old neurologist who brought the case against
the nation's top carriers and manufacturers two years ago. The development
could make it difficult for U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake to keep the
landmark case from going to trial.
It is the second major scientific paper in less than three months by
Sweden's Lennart Hardell to find an association between mobile phones and
brain tumors. Blake is expected to rule shortly on whether testimony of
Hardell and other plaintiff experts is admissible under a standard set in
the 1993 Supreme Court ruling Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc.
The Daubert finding is key to whether the case goes to trial or gets
dismissed. [PARA]In the August issue of the European Journal of Cancer
Prevention, Hardell found a 30-percent increased risk of benign tumors among
cell-phone users. Those findings are just now being picked up by major
media. In an Aug. 21 letter to Blake, industry defense lawyers argued
Hardell's data in that paper carries little weight because the
plaintiff-Christopher Newman-has a malignant tumor known as an astrocytoma.
"The publication of Dr. Hardell's study fails to cure any of the numerous
flaws rendering his causation opinion inadmissible in this action," stated
But there is a second Hardell paper that has yet to make it into the public
arena. It will shortly.
The October issue of the International Journal of Radiation Biology will
include more Hardell epidemiology results that-when combined with the August
paper-may well send the Newman case to trial. The paper-"Use of cellular
telephones and the risk for astrocytoma"-found a statistically significant
increased risk for malignant brain tumors among cell-phone users. The risk
was even greater for astrocytoma-Newman's brain cancer-on the side of head
used by subscribers to make and receive cell-phone calls.
The data is drawn from what is touted as the largest case-control
epidemiology study in the world. During last February's Daubert hearing,
industry lawyers attacked the methodology and results of that study.
Newman is represented by the law firm of trial attorney and Baltimore
Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Angelos has made hundreds of millions of
dollars in judgments against asbestos and tobaccomakers. The Angelos firm
notified Blake on Sept. 6 that Hardell's newest paper on cell-phone use and
astrocytomas will appear in the Oct. 2 issue of the International Journal of
"Peer reviewed scientific papers show an increased risk for developing brain
tumors for those who have used analog cellular telephones. Additionally,
there is increasing evidence of biological mechanisms that explain how the
tumors are initiated and/or promoted resulting in the increased risk
reported in these studies," H. Russell Smouse, an Angelos firm lawyer, told
the court in the Sept. 6 letter.
A fierce debate has erupted in industry and government circles over whether
mobile-phone radiation can produce non-thermal biological effects that could
harm cellular users. There are 140 million mobile-phone subscribers in the
RCR Wireless News learned last week that a third Hardell paper-expanding on
previous research linking cell-phone use to increased risk of acoustic
neurinoma (a benign ear tumor) has been accepted for publication in the
scientific journal Neuroepidemiology.
None of the handful of cancer lawsuits against industry have made it to
trial since the brain cancer controversy first surfaced in a Florida lawsuit
in the early 1990s. Wall Street, which has grown bearish on the wireless
industry in the face of sluggish subscriber growth, is watching the case
There are 10 additional brain cancer lawsuits pending against the wireless
industry in Blake's court and dozens more waiting in the wings.
Joanne Suder, the Baltimore lawyer who originally filed the Newman action
and who now represents clients in six other tumor cases before Blake, said
cancer victims deserve to have their cases heard while they are still alive.
"It would be a tragedy and an injustice if these people don't get their day
in court. There are literally scores of other individuals waiting to file a
lawsuit, and they want their day in court too," said Suder.