Those familiar with asbestos billionaire Peter Angelos know that he has recycled millions of his dollars as he ground a very proud baseball franchise into the dust. But the Angelos law firm has long sought a new pot of gold to replace asbestos, and thought it found it in the cell phone industry. The Angelos' claim (termed "junk science" by many) is in essence that holding a cell phone close to one's head is bad for the brain. The firm struck out swinging in its home state of Maryland, and last week bit the dust in a mammoth class action law suit in Pennsylvania (summary on Law 360).
Judge John R. Padova of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Angelos' putative class action, which charged that cellular phone manufacturers formed a conspiracy to market cell phones while suppressing knowledge of the adverse biological effects and health risks allegedly posed by radio frequency emissions.
In what may be a prelude to the forthcoming Wyeth case before the Supremes, Judge Padova accepted the defendants' pre-emption claims. He ruled that in order for Mr. Angelos' clients to win a jury verdict on his claims that defendants knew or should have known of the biological risks associated with cell phone use and the associated RF exposure, jurors would have to accept his premise that the FCC's maximum standard for RF exposure is inadequate to ensure the safe use of cell phones.
The Angelos firm may have to find its pot of gold elsewhere...