[London, ENGLAND] Mobile phone giant Vodafone has shrugged
its corporate shoulders in the face of pending lawsuits
by U.S. brain cancer victims, saying it will not be liable
as it does not operate directly in the states where the suits have
Vodafone shares fell Thursday morning on reports that
lawyer Peter Angelos, who helped win US $4.2 billion in
damages from the tobacco industry in Maryland, will instigate
ten claims against the mobile phone industry in California,
Kentucky and Maryland.
In the U.S., Vodafone owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless
Inc., a joint U.S. venture Verizon Communications — one
of the companies that may be affected by the suits.
On Thursday Vodafone pointed out that research sponsored by
the British Government this year showed there was no link
between mobile phone use and brain tumors.
Nonetheless, it is a worrying time for the mobile phone
companies which have paid immense sums to governments
for third generation licenses — only to face lawsuits
that will certainly take time, money and effort to
“The mobile phone industry is not the tobacco industry,”
said Michael Caldwell, a spokesman for Vodafone.
“If there were issues to be brought to the attention of
our customers we would do so immediately,” said Caldwell.
Experts will now argue that the long-running but so
far unproven brain cancer scare could actually benefit
companies such as Vodafone in the future — by persuading
users to switch to third generation, Internet-based equipment
that does not need to be held close to the head.
In the build-up to Christmas, Vodafone went on a spending
spree, investing many billions of dollars in companies
in Japan, Ireland and Australia. Although its share price has
dipped during 2000 it has outperformed the index for
European telecommunication services.