Monday, 20 May 2019

Anti-Wi-Fi activist leaves US neighbour with $170K legal bill


Anti wireless activist Arthur Firstenberg


A US woman sued by her anti-wireless activist neighbour who claimed signals from her mobile phone and home Wi-Fi system made him sick has been left with a US $170,000 legal bill despite the case being thrown out by a US court.

State District Judge Sarah Singleton, who dismissed the two-year long US$1 million lawsuit last year, ruled in January that well-known anti-wireless activist Arthur Firstenberg did not have to pay for the expert witnesses called by his next-door neighbour and was only responsible for US$15 in photocopying fees.
In October last year the Judge found that there was no evidence to support Firstenberg’s claims that his neighbour’s iPhone, Wi-Fi system, dimmer switches, compact fluorescent lights and other electronics caused him physical harm.
“Studies have failed to provide clear support for a causal relationship between electromagnetic fields and complaints of EMS [electromagnetic sensitivity],” ruled Judge Singleton in the long-running Santa Fe case.
In early 2010 Firstenberg sued neighbour Raphaela Monribot and her landlord Robin Leith for US$1 million dollars for “injuries, illness, pain and suffering” and another US$430,000 for loss in value of his home because he also claimed the devices made him homeless.
The Court ruled there were no valid scientific studies to support Firstenberg’s claims that his neighbour’s electronics caused his physical symptoms ranging from hip pain to heart damage.
“There seems to be no correlation between exposure and degree or certainty of harm,” Judge Singleton ruled.
The judge relied extensively on the position of the World Health Organization, which concluded that “well controlled and conducted double-blind studies have shown that symptoms do not seem to be correlated with EMF exposure… these symptoms may be due to pre-existing psychiatric conditions as well as stress reactions as a result of worrying about believed EMF health effects, rather than EMF exposure,” Christopher Graeser, attorney for Monribot, said in a statement.
During the trail Firstenberg failed to comply with orders to work with a court-appointed expert on protocols for testing his ‘sensitivity’ to wireless signals.
“The Court had previously ruled that Mr. Firstenberg could not introduce evidence of his own private, uncontrolled testing because he refused to be tested by our expert, as the judge had ordered,” Graeser said.
“We have asserted all along that Firstenberg’s symptoms were related to a psychological disorder and other health problems that he has, and the Court has agreed with us. Mr. Firstenberg may believe his claim, but the science is not on his side.”
“People are entitled to believe what they wish. However, if they want to sue their neighbor for $1 million, they need to have reliable scientific evidence on their side.”  
During the course of the trail, Raphaela Monribot moved out of her house and left Santa Fe.
“It took three years to arrive at what common sense would have easily dictated. I am very proud of my lawyers who took this challenge and prevailed, because it seems as if common sense is indeed very hard to legally prove,” Monribot said.
“May the right of the individual to use everyday technology in the privacy of his home always prevail against attacks of activists who wish to force their agenda on the rest of the world.”
On January 2, Firstenberg filed another lawsuit in Santa Fe, this time against a hotel which had been granted a permit to host a mobile phone antenna, intended to improve local coverage.

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