Worker's comp claim for brain cancer settled

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WASHINGTON--The lawyer for a former cell-phone programmer in California said a settlement totaling $180,000 was reached on a worker's compensation claim that alleged Sharesa Price's brain cancer was caused by her workplace.

Price joined Advance Communications Systems--a small Northern California firm affiliated with U.S. Cellular Corp.--in July 1996 before leaving in February 1999 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Carl Hilliard, attorney for Price and president of Wireless Consumers Alliance, said the outcome is a precedent even though it is a settlement with the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California.

"Hopefully, it will be used to help workers who are similarly injured," said Hilliard. Hilliard said about $150,000 was used to compensate doctors and others, while $30,000 was paid directly to Price.

Health officials here and overseas say existing research does not point to a link between mobile phones and cancer, but add that additional research is necessary in light of some studies suggesting adverse biological effects from wireless phone radiation.

Elsewhere, the Supreme Court last Monday declined to consider the appeal of an environmental advocacy group that sued to force the Federal Communications Commission to study possible health effects of mobile-phone tower emissions.

The EMR Network argues FCC radio-frequency radiation guidelines do not take into account recent research findings and fail to distinguish among children, elderly and ill individuals insofar as exposure limits.

The agency's RF standard was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000. The 1996 standard is being revised.

The high court's action comes as a handful of health-related lawsuits against the mobile-phone industry have been resuscitated after being returned to various state courts around the country.

Meantime, a long-running suit in Illinois dealing with the privacy of individuals involved in a cell-phone health epidemiology study appears to have ended, with the plaintiff deciding not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state supreme court's latest rejection of the case.

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By Jeffrey Silva

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