Appeals Court Urged To Overturn RF Headset Cases
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
November 14, 2003
Plaintiffs’ lawyers again urged a federal appeals court to
overturn a lower court ruling dismissing five class-action suits that sought
to force mobile-phone carriers to supply consumers with headsets to reduce
the chance of injury from radiation emitted by handsets.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake of Baltimore last year denied a motion
to remand four of the cases to state court and the fifth to a federal court
In March, Blake threw out all five suits.
“The telecommunications carriers and manufacturers … represent that their
commercial activities are inherently federal and wholly beyond scrutiny of
the state courts. In deregulating that industry, however, Congress never
intended to immunize such activities from the
operation of state tort and consumer protection laws,” plaintiffs told
the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Nov 5. The date
for oral argument has not been set.
The 4th Circuit last month affirmed Blake’s dismissal of an $800 million
cancer suit against Motorola Inc. and others. Lawyers for Christopher
Newman, the Maryland neurologist who filed the suit in 2000, have not said
whether they plan further legal action. The outcome of the headset appeal
could determine whether Blake agrees to remand to state court nine brain
cancer cases that turn on jurisdiction.
On a related front, Chicago parents have filed a class action suit against
local education officials for installing wireless local area networks in
schools. The suit, filed in Cook County circuit court said the school district ignored potential health risks posed by
radio-frequency radiation and “breached their duties of care to the children
of District 27.”
U.S. health agencies say research indicates low-level radiation does not
pose a heath risk, but caution they cannot guarantee that human exposure to
such transmissions are safe. Some studies have found genetic damage from
low-level RF emissions. The government said it supports more research.