Mobile-Phone Safety Lawsuit Rejected by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a suit against wireless-phone manufacturers and retailers filed by customers who said the devices may cause illnesses, including brain cancer.

The justices today left intact a federal appeals court decision that said regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission preclude suits under state laws by phone consumers. Most lower courts to consider the issue have reached similar conclusions.

The suit before the justices, filed in Pennsylvania state court, named more than a dozen companies and trade associations as defendants. Those sued included Nokia Inc.; units of AT&T Inc. (T) and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.; and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (VOD)

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Stephen Breyer didn’t take part in today’s decision not to hear the appeal. Both owned shares of Nokia as of Dec. 31, according their most recent financial-disclosure report.

The appeal centered on the legal impact of the FCC standards that govern radio frequency emissions and require pre- authorization of phones sold or leased in the country. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said those rules, first adopted in 1996, preempt any additional requirements under state law, including those imposed through lawsuits.

The Obama administration joined the mobile-phone industry in urging the Supreme Court to reject the appeal without a hearing.

The case is Farina v. Nokia, 10-1064.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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