The New Mexico Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Jonathan Sutin, has decided Firstenberg v. Monribot, a case that has generated considerable attention in the news media and on some blogs. See here, here, and here.
The plaintiff, Arthur Firstenberg, claims that he suffers from electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS). He sued his neighbor, Raphaela Monribot, for nuisance and prima facie tort, alleging that her use of a cell phone and wi-fi in her own home was damaging his health. He asked for $1,430,000 in damages and an injunction to prevent Ms. Monribot from using any equipment that emits electromagnetic radiation. (Mr. Firstenberg also helped found an organization, the Cellular Phone Task Force, which “is dedicated to halting the expansion of wireless technology because it cannot be made safe.” Good luck with that.)
Not surprisingly, the trial court granted summary judgment against Mr. Firstenberg, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, because he failed to offer scientific evidence establishing that exposure to electromagnetic radiation caused, or is even capable of causing, the injuries that he claimed.
One supposes the trial court could also have based summary judgment on public policy grounds, since declaring electromagnetic radiation to be a nuisance prohibited by tort law would bring our society to a grinding halt. Maybe next time…