The cell-phone-as-health-hazard cause is all but dead. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake on March 6 tossed out five class-action suits that claimed Nokia and Motorola don't warn people about the alleged risk of brain tumors.
Despite several studies that have found no adverse health effects from the use of cell phones, the plaintiffs claimed that thousands of cell phones were defective and unreasonably dangerous. They demanded that wireless manufacturers include headsets to protect users from radiation.
In September, Judge Blake dismissed an $800 million lawsuit brought by a Baltimore neurologist who claimed cell phones gave him brain cancer. The law firm of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, which helped file the five suits dismissed this month, brought that suit as well.
Judge Blake ruled that federal standards preempt the plaintiffs' state law claims. Keeping the cases alive would usurp the regulatory function entrusted by Congress to the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies, she said.
The ruling comes at a good time for the struggling telecommunications industry. A string of successful radiation suits could generate high damages, bad publicity, and a public health scare.