Lawsuit claims cellular phones cause cancer

Jan. 3, 1993
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Microwave radiation from a cellular telephone contributed to the malignant brain cancer that killed his wife, a man has charged in a lawsuit against the phone's manufacturer.

David Reynard, of Madeira Beach, believes Susan Reynard, 33, died of a malignant tumor May 24 as a result of her use of a handheld portable telephone he gave her to 'make life easier' during her pregnancy.

The suit filed against NEC America, the phone's maker, alleges a tumor grew to fatal proportions because the telephone 'was equipped with an antenna so positioned as to cause exposure to microwave radiation in an excessive and unsafe amount to the portion of the brain where the tumor was found.'

Reynard told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that a year after his wife's complication-riddled pregnancy, an MRI brainscan revealed a lesion on the left side of her brain. He claims the tumor was exactly where the telephone's antenna would be during calls.

'It's a perfect bull's eye',' he said.

Within the electronics industry, Reynard's claims are not taken lightly.

'As we learn more and more about radiation levels, we know things happen at lower and lower levels,' said Dr. Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News, which has reported on the microwave and electronics industry for a decade. 'You're putting something that can reach miles away just centimeters from your eyes and from your brain. Is it possible that it has some deleterious effect?

'Of course it's possible.'

Attorney Andrea Palazzolo, one of NEC's attorneys, described the case as 'without merit.'

'We intend to defend it. Other than that, we're not going to speak about it,' Palazzolo said.

William Pogue, 44, a Naples real estate appraiser, was a NEC portable user who is undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor as well.

He has not filed a lawsuit, but said he is concerned that others would ignore a warning printed in his telephone's owner's manual.

'Avoid direct contact with the phone antenna and/or direct exposure to the radio frequency energy radiated from the antenna at high-level radiation levels,' the manual says.

'That's just about impossible when you're using it,' Pogue said.

Quirino Balzano, vice-president of another major phone manufacturer, Motorola Inc., said his company also warns against exposing the face or eyes to an activated cellular phone. However, he claims that radiation from telephones is much less than federal law permits to leak from microwave ovens.

Balzano, who has a doctorate in electrophysics, said Motorola researched and designed its products to minimize radiation exposure to consumers.

'I personally don't think that the phone causes brain tumors,' he said.

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