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Top US lawyer seeks mobile-phone cancer cash

Sues 25 companies

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The US lawyer famed for wrangling billions of dollars in damages out of the tobacco industry has started legal action against a stack of mobile phone companies.

Peter Angelos yesterday filed class-action lawsuits in state courts in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, The Washington Post reports. They accuse major mobile phone companies, both handset makers and telephone network providers, of knowingly selling dangerous products.

They also allege links between mobile phone use and a higher risk of health problems, such as brain damage or genetic irregularities.

The suits are not trying to get cash as compensation for specific illnesses. Instead, one of them is aimed at people who bought headsets to try and limit the amount of radiation seeping into their brains from phones - and who want reimbursing for the costs. The other is for people who have not bought handsets, but who want the phone companies to provide them.

They also want unspecified punitive damages.

The action attacks studies on the effect of mobile phone use on health - stating they are inadequate and incomplete, while accusing companies of not revealing damaging findings from their research.

The 25 companies targeted in the action include Verizon, Sprint PCS, Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson.

The mobile phone health debate has stirred up a string of lawsuits against the industry, but none have yet made it to court. Users have complained about the devices causing anything from cancer to diarrhoea, but the mobile phone companies have always maintained mobiles are not dangerous to health.

The Angelos case is different: the suits are not trying to get damages for people made ill by the devices - it has never been proved that phones cause cancer or other diseases. They are merely after cash for people trying to protect their health until studies reveal one way or the other whether mobiles are dangerous.

It would almost be like smokers 50 years ago trying to get tobacco companies to pay to put filters on all cigarettes, just in case the products turned out to be dangerous.

Seventy-one-year-old Baltimore lawyer Angelos has made a fortune during his lifetime from public health cases. He has brought titans in both the asbestos and tobacco industries to their knees -- and netted a $4 billion settlement for the state of Maryland from the latter. His fees at the time were 25 per cent of the winnings. ®

Related Link

Washington Post article

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