Maine Resident with Cancer Sues  over Discriminatory Smart Meter Opt-Out Fees


On, July 9, 2020 Maine resident Ed Friedman filed a disability/discrimination lawsuit against Central Maine Power (CMP) in Portland’s U.S. District Court (a Federal Court). The suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) alleges smart meters’ opt out fees are discriminatory to those disabled customers whose condition may be exacerbated by radiation emitted from the smart meters. Friedman has lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, an uncurable form of cancer. 

Coast to coast utility companies have been replacing electric, gas and water analog meters with “smart” meters. These “smart” meters emit pulsed radiofrequency radiation and are  installed on people’s homes without their knowledge or consent. Peer reviewed science has found increased cancer, immune system damage, and headaches after exposures to radiofrequency radiation. In addition, the pulsed RFR emitted by smartmeters and other wireless telecommunications poses risks to pollinators and wildlife. Published research has found negative impacts to bees, plants, and wildlife. 


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in accessing state and local government programs and services. The FHAspecifically protects against discrimination in the provision of housing services, and Section 504 of the Rehab Actprohibits discrimination by recipients of federal funding. CMP received $96 million in stimulus funding from the Department of Energy for their smart meter project.

Friedman’s doctor recommends he not be exposed to any wireless radiation in his home. According to Friedman’s oncologist, exposure to the radiation emitted from the meters, even if in low-levels, may exacerbate “fatigue, cognitive difficulty, memory issues and multiple cancer types.” 

Research shows that non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation can cause and promote cancer. Most recently, the FDA nominated  ten year $30 million National Toxicology Program study  found “clear evidence” of cancer and DNA damage. This was corroborated by the Ramazzini Institute study which found the same tumor types as were found in the NTP study, yet at even lower exposure levels.  (Notably, the Ramazzini insitute also found lower frequency magnetic field non ionizing radiation to promote tumors in two studies investigating a synergistic effect – magnetic fields combined with formaldehyde and low-dose γ radiation. ) 

Additionally, Lerchl 2015 is a replication study that found at very low levels, radiofrequency can promote tumors in animals. A 2015 review study  93 of 100  peer-reviewed studies dealing with oxidative effects of low-intensity RFR confirmed that RFR induces oxidative effects in biological systems. Oxidative stress is considered one of the hallmarks of cancer.  Recent Yale research found thyroid cancer associated with cell phone use in people with genetic susceptibility. 

In 2011 the WHO’s IARC classified RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).  Due to the more recent human and animal studies,  several scientists now conclude that radiofrequency radiaton is a hman carcinogen. 

In 2016 Friedman asked CMP to waive its opt-out fees as their reasonable accommodation of his disability. CMP declined, writing there was “no basis for compromise.”.

CMP argued the opt-out fee is not discriminatory because they charge the same amount to everyone. But Friedman’s lawsuit responds that “this is no excuse at all. Suppose a store has both stairs and a wheelchair ramp, and it charges everyone a ‘stairs opt-out fee’ to use the ramp . . . the store is illegally discriminating against wheelchair users who, by virtue of their disability, require a ramp in order to access the store. This is true even if the store charges everyone the fee to use the ramp.”

Ed Friedman was a lead spokesperson in a 2011 19-person complaint to the Public Utilities Commission to stop meter roll-out in Maine. When the PUC rejected the complaint, Friedman and the others hired an attorney and appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court who found in their favor remanding the case back to the PUC for what turned out to be a 5 year investigation into safety. Ultimately the group appealed the PUC’s final decision that the meters were “safe enough” back to the court and lost.  

Friedman developed his cancer during the PUC proceeding and following their defeat, with a colleague went on to file a HUD complaint under the Fair Housing Act alleging discrimination in the provision of services by CMP. The complaints were accepted by HUD and referred to their partner agency the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) for a thorough investigation. MHRC staff attorney investigators recommended reasonable accommodation for the two (waiving the opt out fees) but were reversed by the politically-appointed MHRC Commissioners, all with industry backgrounds including one who was head of insurance and risk for Avangrid, CMP’s parent company in the U.S. ( he did recuse himself).


Mr. Friedman is represented by the Law Offices of Bruce M. Merrill and the Law Office of William Most. 

Filed Final Friedman Complaint 7-7-20 by Wgme Producers on Scribd Source: Environmental Health Trust