Lawsuit By Former Engineer Says Cell Phone Damaged His Brain

Lawsuit By Former Engineer Says Mobile Phone Damaged His Brain
March 15, 1999

A former British Telecom [NYSE:BTY] (BT) engineer has announced plans to take his former employers to court over brain damage he says was caused by his having to use a mobile phone in connection with his work.

Stephen Corney, aged 39, said that he left BT last summer, but has been suffering from short-term memory loss which he says is linked to the use of a mobile phone, which he had clamped to his head for hours at a time during work hours.

Corney has filed a protective writ against BT, which gives his lawyers up to three months to compile sufficient scientific and medical evidence to substantiate their claim against the carrier.

Corney told reporters over the weekend that he planned to sue for a sum in excess of 100,000 pounds ($160,000). He said that he worked for BT between 1986 and 1996, when he left on sick leave.

According to Corney, after using GSM (global system for mobile communications) mobiles for lengthy periods, he felt as if there was a steel band around his head. “The longer I stayed on the phone, the tighter it got,” he said.

In addition to this problem, Corney said that the area around his ear also heated up during his mobile phone usage. After ending the phone call, he said he felt he had an insect trapped in his ear, as well as feeling “punch drunk.”

Corney says that he has experienced short-term memory problems, with him doing shopping while he was initially off work, placing the shopping in the trunk of the car, and going out again to do the same shopping again.

“When I was first off work, I was in a bad state and I knew something had gone wrong in my head. I was scared,” he admitted.

Corney’s case comes as researchers at Bristol Royal Infirmary in the UK are preparing to publish details of their research into the effects on short-term memory by cellular phones.

Researchers on the project are so worried by their findings that they have switched to using shields or hands6.00 equipment when using their mobiles, which they keep to an absolute minimum.

In the Bristol research, 50 percent of the volunteers wore microwave transmitters that operated in the 915 megahertz (MHz) (GSM) wavebands for 30 minutes at time. The others wore placebo units. After the transmitters were active, the volunteers then carried out a series of tests designed to show cognitive functions and memory.

The research, undertaken under the supervision of Bristol Royal Infirmary’ s Dr. Alan Preece, found that those who had not been subjected to the transmitter’s output performed better in the tests.

Details of the research, which will be published at the end of this month in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, will build on earlier research carried out last year by Dr. Kjell Hansson Mild, of Sweden’s National Institute for Working Life In Umea.

Mild, who carried out his research among around 11,000 Norwegians and Swedes, found that users complained of transient symptoms after using their mobiles. The symptoms included headaches, fatigue, and tingling, plus heat sensations when using hand portables.