While a South Korean epidemiological study has recently correlated the incidence of brain tumors and the use of cell phones, many plaintiffs in several regions of the world, including a hundred in the U.S. are demanding that justice recognize the responsibility of manufacturers in brain tumors that affected them or one of their relatives. If the Court of Appeal of Turin issued a decision in favor of a victim suffering from an acoustic neuroma (benign tumor) in November 2022, a judgment rendered on April 21, 2023 in the United States rejected part of the claims against the smartphone manufacturer Motorola.

The American multinational is being sued by the family of Frank Aaron Walker, who died from brain cancer at the end of December 2020 after using the brand’s phones from 1995. The plaintiffs thus claim that the manufacturer hid information from consumers about the harmfulness of the radiation emitted by its devices, which would also not comply with the specific absorption rate (SAR) standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

With each health scandal, justice takes time to react

In his decision, Louisiana federal judge James D. Cain Jr found that most of the claims filed by Frank Aaron Walker‘s family were based on “general attacks” on FCC certifications and “alleged manipulations” concerning test results conducted by mobile phone manufacturers. He thus definitively dismissed the charges of failure to warn, civil conspiracy and unfair trade practices.

The judge also said that to succeed on the other claims, plaintiffs will have to demonstrate how Motorola caused a faulty workmanship that resulted in the emission of waves exceeding the FCC’s set rates by one or more of its devices. The Phonegate health scandal is no exception to the rule: as always, the courts takes time to recognize the responsibility and the shortcomings of the manufacturers.

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The critical importance of preserving evidence

The court also responded to the accusations in these terms:

“From the complaint, it is unclear how the complainants came to believe that the phones in question exceeded the SAR standard or if they were even in possession of these phones.”

These remarks illustrate the capital importance in the preservation of objects and documents that can constitute probative elements in the eyes of justice: old telephones, notices, operator records… For our NGO, the failures of manufacturers, in particular the overruns of SAR , have been well documented. Let us recall that a 2019 investigation, conducted by journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Roe and published in the Chicago Tribune, revealed that the results of emissions testing of several mobile phones – testing carried out in an FCC-accredited laboratory and in similar conditions – far exceeded regulatory levels.

This investigation confirmed the hundreds of SAR exceedances brought to light by our association, during SAR test controls by the National Frequency Agency (ANFR) since 2012.

Experts testimony rejected by a judge

In another recent case, known as Murray v. Motorola and concerning thirteen victims, the Superior Court of the District of Washington D.C. considered that the testimony of certain experts (Igor Belyaev, Michael Kundi, Abraham Liboff, Wilhelm Mosgöller, Dimitris Panagopoulos et Laura Plunkett) in favor of the plaintiffs was not admissible, in the sense that it did not establish a causal link between the disease and the use of mobile phones. At the same time, Judge Irving allowed the intervention of two of the industry experts, Meir Stampfer and John Laterra. This magistrate, who worked in his early days for MCI Telecommunications (which became Verizon in 2006) did not however consider it necessary to withdraw.

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Ellen Marks, Director of California Brain Tumor Association, reacted to this statement:

“I greatly appreciate the work of Dr. Arazi, other Phonegate colleagues, Sam Roe and the attorneys who are suing Apple now in the United States as their work has proven that many of the phones being sold are noncompliant with allowable exposure limits. As a plaintiff in the Murray v. Motorola cases I am highly disappointed in Judge Irving‘s decision to disallow the plaintiffs’ expert testimony. His decision enforces the misconception that cell phones are safe and misleads the public. Many cancers take decades to develop- this could be a public health catastrophe. Telecom is using the tobacco playbook but this is far worse. I do not want other families to suffer as mine and so many others.”

Legal actions are going to increase

In the United States, as in Europe or Canada, legal actions are increasing against mobile phone manufacturers. The American Supreme Court must also soon rule on the class action concerning the excesses of SAR of the iPhone of Apple brand. And the specialized site Microwave News also indicates, in a recent well-documented article, that 67 similar cases are still awaiting judgment in the United States.

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For Dr. Marc Arazi, author of the book Phonegate, who published the English version to raise awareness of this public health issue in North America:

“Today, in the United States as in other countries, the actions are going to be multiplied from victims, who wish to demand justice. We provide their lawyers with the most up-to-date data on this industrial and health scandal. We also met in the USA, in 2017 and 2018, the lawyers Lundy & Lundy who represent the family of Frank Aaron Walker. Thus, if people with tumors, relatives of victims or their lawyers want to contact us, our association is fully available to support them.”

On the same subject:

Phonegate Canada: Court authorizes class action against Apple and Samsung