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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 the lawyers.

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 Radiation Biology.

"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 United States.

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 closely.

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.

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