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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Judge rejects cancer link to mobiles
File photo of woman using a mobile phone
Mobile-phone makers have been watching the case
A US judge has thrown out the evidence filed against several mobile-phone firms in an $800m lawsuit that alleges the devices cause brain tumours.

The move clears the way for the dismissal of the suit against several manufacturers, including cell-phone giant Motorola, which was brought by American neurologist Christopher Newman.

The nine accused
Motorola
Verizon Communications
Bell Atlantic
Bell Atlantic Mobile
Southwestern Bell Mobile
Washington/Baltimore Cellular
SBC Communications
Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association
Telecommunication Industry Association

Dr Newman's lawyer, John Angelos, said the ruling was a blow to similar cases filed against mobile-phone companies.

The 42-year-old Maryland neurologist filed his case two years ago, alleging that a malignant tumour found behind his right ear in 1998 was linked to his frequent use of an analogue cell phone.

Swedish research

His case, which received widespread attention, was the first such case in the US in which a judge agreed to hear evidence.

Dr Newman's lawyers presented evidence from a Swedish researcher that suggested brain tumours were more likely to be found on the side of the head where patients held their mobile phone.

They also presented the judge with studies that showed that radiation damaged rats' DNA.

But US District Judge Catherine Blake ruled that the evidence was not generally accepted by scientists and that there was no proven link between cell phones and tumours.

File photo of Motorola phone
Motorola said the case relied on 'unsupported claims'

"Tumours of the type diagnosed in Dr Newman have been recognised to be in existence for close to 100 years, with most having no known cause," the judge wrote.

"There have been variations, but no significant overall change in the incidence of such tumours despite the increasing use of cell phones among the American population."

The $45bn mobile-phone industry has been watching the case closely, and welcomed the ruling, which was handed down on Monday from a Baltimore court.

'Deterrent'

"We hope this has an impact on other pending litigation and serves as a deterrent to future litigants making unsupported claims of this kind," said Motorola spokesman Norman Sandler.

Mr Angelos said he may appeal against the decision.

Dr Newman's tumour was removed and he has since had several operations.

However, his lawyers say he is now blind in his left eye and suffers from memory loss and slurred speech.

Dr Newman's legal team said he used an analogue mobile phone between 1992 and 1998 for work.

By the time cell-phone use in the US began to expand rapidly in the late 1990s, most phones sold were digital, which emit radiation in pulses.

Analogue phones emit radiation in continuous waves.

'Potential risk'

"If I had a choice, I would never use a cell phone, because even with the potential risks, it is just not worth it," Dr Newman said when the case was launched in 2000.

There are at least 11 other similar personal-injury cases pending against mobile-phone manufacturers in the United States.

Five cases, seeking more than $6bn in damages, were filed in Washington in February.

Three separate major studies conducted since 2000, including one from the US National Cancer Institute, concluded that cell phones were not harmful.

See also:

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19 Oct 99 | e-cyclopedia
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