Mobile Phones,Brain Tumours and Court Cases

Brit dad sues Nokia for up to £1million claiming using his mobile phone caused his brain tumour

Neil Whitfield, 60, says he developed an acoustic neuroma tumour due to heavy phone use for his job in the late 1990s.

By Grace Macaskill 12 MAY 2018

Excerpts: A salesman who suffered a brain tumour is suing Nokia for ­“significant” compensation which could hit £1million – in a case that could cost mobile phone firms a fortune. Father-of-six Neil Whitfield, 60, claims heavy mobile phone use in the late 1990s caused a deadly growth.

 His job meant using a phone for long spells – and in the days before it was illegal he had the gadget pressed to his ear while driving. Neil developed an acoustic neuroma tumour on a nerve between his inner ear and brain.

He was left deaf in one ear after surgery in 2001 to remove a growth the size of a golf ball. He also suffers with balance problems. “I spent almost five years glued to my phone hours at a time until I was diagnosed. I could feel the heat coming off it.

Neil is the first Brit to sue a mobile phone company on these grounds and the case – six years in the making – could trigger hundreds of similar claims.

Solicitor Katrina Pope, of London Corporate Legal, in Mayfair, expects to make a “strong claim” by the end of 2018.

Katrina, who has been working unpaid on the case since 2012, said: “A win in the High Court could set a legal precedent for other cases which we are aware of and that are watching our progress.

“It is ultimately about justice for many people who have, akin to Neil, been victims of what some experts describe as the ‘smoking gun of the 21st century’.

“Neil’s personal injury claim is outside the legal time frame of three years. We argue it’s only now that the technology exists for radiation testing to allow us to bring the case – the first in Britain.”

Millions of Brits used Nokia phones in the 1990s. In 1995 just seven per cent of Brits had a cell phone but by 1999 one was sold every four seconds – and Nokia was the biggest manufacturer of mobiles.

Figures published last week show cases of a brain tumour called glioblastoma in England rose from 983 to 2,531 between 1995 and 2015. It is found in the forehead and side regions of the brain.

And a study in the Journal of Public Health and Environment found higher rates of tumours in the frontal ­tem-poral lobe which “raises the suspicion mobile and cordless phone use may be promoting gliomas”.

 The law firm has commissioned experts to carry out radiation tests on Nokia phones used by Neil, including the 5510. Katrina said: “The evidence is being collated.” The surgeon who removed Neil’s tumour at Manchester’s Royal ­Infirmary, Professor Shakeel Saeed, said of the case: “At a personal level one cannot rule out the risk based on the current evidence.”

Cancer Research moved to quell panic, saying there is no conclusive evidence that mobiles cause problems.

An Italian lawyer whose landmark case ruled a link between tumours and mobile phones said Neil’s battle would be watched by the world.

Stefano Bertone won a state-funded pension for Roberto Romeo, 57, after claiming excessive mobile use caused his acoustic neuroma tumour – the same type as Neil’s.

Roberto who used his phone for work for three to four hours every day for 15 years.

A court in Ivrea, Italy, awarded him £418 a month under a government workplace insurance scheme.

Stefano said: “We watch the UK case with interest. The argument required to prove causation in Roberto’s case against a government agency was less than would be required in a case against the manufacturer. The outcome in Mr Whitfield’s case will be used in other cases across the world.

“In America the class action is tied up in lengthy legal process, so Europe really is leading the field.”

Link to the article:

For more about Italy:

Cell Phone Court Cases, Tumours, Acoustic Neuroma, Italy

Articles from a law firm:

Mobile Phones and Cancer – the Next Asbestos?

Mobile Phones and Cancer

Motorola versus Murray:

In total, 29 cases on the subject matter were brought before the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

The court did acknowledge isolated strands of scientific data that suggest a possible causal connection between cellphone use and brain cancer. But the court ultimately ruled that based on the research to date, there was inadequate data for any scientist to opine on a causal connection between cellphone use and cancer to any degree of scientific certainty.

In spite of this, the plaintiffs offered their own expert testimony to the contrary, arguing that the jury should determine the validity of the testimony.

The importance of expert testimony

The AMA, with an interest in deterring abusive lawsuits, voiced agreement with the defendants through an amicus brief that was submitted by the Litigation Center, through the AMA and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. In its brief, the AMA cited a prior court ruling—Girardot v. United States—that maintained that “in the past three decades, the use of expert witnesses has skyrocketed” causing “some commentators [to] claim that the American judicial hearing is becoming trial by expert.”

The brief adds that “purported expert testimony often is the necessary linchpin for tort claims seeking sizable monetary damages.”

The Superior Court for the District of Columbia had been operating under a precedent set in Frye v. United States, a case tried in 1923. Under the Frye standard, testimony would be admissible if the expert employed a method that would be deemed acceptable in the relevant scientific community and the expert would not unduly prejudice the jury.

The defendants objected, stating that the testimony was invalid under more modern court standards adopted elsewhere.

The standards the defendants cited were Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. Under the latter decision, the court is to allow reasonably reliable expert testimony. The petitioners contended the plaintiffs’ expert testimony should be excluded due to a lack of necessary scientific data.

The D.C. appeals court agreed, citing that there should be predictable guidance as to what kind of expert testimony could be admitted, in a ruling in late 2016. With that, the appellate court remanded the case to apply the stricter expert standard to the specific witnesses and facts of this case. Since the decision was handed down in October, the plaintiffs have been compiling new expert reports that will be scrutinized by the court and the defense under the newly adopted evidentiary standard.


Related Posts

%d bloggers like this: