Asbestos, Tobacco Lawyer Sets Sights on Cell Phone Industry

The man who has made billions for himself and his clients from lawsuits he's filed against the tobacco and asbestos industries now has another target: cell phone makers.

Peter Angelos has raked in enough cash to buy the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and still have a hefty sum left over. Now, he's filing a class-action lawsuit against cell phone companies like Verizon, AT&T Wireless and Sprint claiming they've known for years that their products are dangerous but have kept that information from the public and turned a blind eye to the issue.

Whether cell phones pose real health and safety threats is still unclear. The Angelos lawsuit and others have charged that the radiation transmitted from the devices during usage can be linked to brain cancer. A plaintiff that has brain cancer attributed to cell phones has yet to step forward.

But two recent studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have determined that cell phones are safe and found there is no conclusive evidence they can cause cancer.

"There certainly is no scientific proof that cell phones contribute to any health problems," said Dr. Robert Park, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland. "There’s one exception, and that's if you use a cell phone when you're driving."

The lawsuit calls for mobile phone makers to provide free ear pieces, which cost between $20 and $100 each.

"It certainly would reduce any exposure to radiation," Park said. "But if the radiation is harmless in the first place, reducing the exposure isn’t going to make much difference."

Angelos believes there hasn't been enough research done yet to really know the effects and that more long-term studies are needed before a conclusive determination can be made.

Louis Slesin of Microwave News magazine said that 50 to 70 percent of all radiation coming from the phone goes into the body of the person using it. What isn't yet known is how that radiation affects the body after extended usage, he said.

"There's been too little research done," Slesin said. "There are a lot of important unanswered questions that need to be addressed. This is not a phantom risk. The Angelos lawsuit is going to shed light on this issue."

Cell phone users in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will be invited to join in the class-action suit.

Angelos reportedly made more than $100 million from the asbestos lawsuits he brought in the early 1980s and $4 billion for the state of Maryland in its tobacco settlement. Though he is asking for a $1 billion fee for the tobacco outcome, the state is fighting him on it, saying he only deserves half that money since the case was settled so quickly.

Angelos and representatives from the cell phone industry declined to speak to Fox News for this story.

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