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Blake Pushes More Cell Phone Health Lawsuits Back To State Level
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
February 16, 2006

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ruled three mobile-phone health suits should be returned to state and federal courts, another in a string of legal setbacks for the wireless industry.

While the mobile phone industry has yet to lose a suit alleging a cell phone-cancer link, cellular carriers and manufacturers have watched a steady stream of health lawsuits sent back to state courts in recent years.

Wireless companies initially steered numerous wireless health suits to Blake, who threw out an $800 million brain cancer suit against Motorola Inc. and others in 2002. Black also dismissed in 2003 five class action suits that would have forced carriers to supply consumers with headsets in an attempt to reduce cell phone radiation exposure.

However, the tide seems to be turning as industry’s federal pre-emption defense showed signs of losing steam.

Blake remanded six brain cancer suits to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 2004. In 2005, a divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned Blake’s headset ruling. The wireless industry failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Last June Blake remanded to the D.C. Superior Court a suit filed by Sarah Dahlgren in which it is alleged mobile phone companies failed to make consumers aware of possible health risks and the lack of consensus in the scientific community on mobile phones and health.

Four headset cases have since returned to state courts in Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Blake’s Feb. 15 decision recommends to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that a fifth class action headset lawsuit be returned to U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle in Louisiana. Blake also called for a class-action brain cancer suit filed by Gibb Brower (now deceased) to be remanded to a California state court and that a brain suit filed by the wife of James Louther be returned to a Florida court.

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