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Man Sues Neighbor Claiming Wi-Fi Made Him Sick 574

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-waves dept.
OrangeMonkey11 writes "A Santa Fe man who claims to suffer from 'electromagnetic sensitivities' has sued his neighbor after she refused to stop using wireless devices. 59-year-old Arthur Firstenberg claims his sensitivity can be set off by cellphones, routers and other electronic devices. From the article: 'Firstenberg, 59, wanted Raphaela Monribot to limit her use of the devices. "I asked her to work with me," he said. "Basically, she refused." So he sued Monribot in state district court, seeking $530,000 in damages and an injunction to force her to turn off the electronics. "Being the target of this lawsuit has affected me very adversely," Monribot said Friday in response to e-mailed questions. "I feel as if my life and liberty are under attack for no valid reason, and it has forced me to have to defend my very basic human rights."'"

*

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Man Sues Neighbor Claiming Wi-Fi Made Him Sick

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  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@gmail . c om> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:16AM (#31670060) Homepage Journal

    the more they'll act like morons.

    I wish reporters wouldn't give this type of crap the time of day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:18AM (#31670106)

    It's the guy's problem, not his neighbour's. If he's got a sensitivity to it, he should don a tinfoil hat and live inside a Faraday cage.

    I developed lactose intolerance late in my life. Should I sue the makers of all my favourite foods because they can't accomodate me?

  • by COMON$ (806135) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:22AM (#31670168) Journal
    Ok people, do you have any CLUE how many radio waves are going through your body at any given time? I mean seriously do people think that GPS's, Cell Phones, Watches, all have some kind of invisible tether? Your best hope is to find a cave in the mountains. Not a home in suburbia...
  • by Evardsson (959228) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:22AM (#31670174) Homepage

    If he is a homeowner, how he protects himself from his surrounding environment is his responsibility. If he really believes he is being made sick by electro-magnetic energies around him maybe he needs to wrap his house in a Faraday cage and shut the hell up.

    You can't sue your neighbor when their cherry tree blooms and sets off your allergies. Same thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:23AM (#31670196)
    >> I wish reporters wouldn't give this type of crap the time of day.

    Yep - let's ignore this story and focus on the previous story, which is... let's see... A NEW APPLE PRODUCT RUMORS!!
  • Mercy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:23AM (#31670200)

    I suspect that the plaintiff is suffering from some significant mental health issues. Maybe paranoia or hypochondria or something. My guess is that this guy isn't suing because he's a jerk, but because he thinks the issue is real.

    Hopefully the suit will be dismissed with a minimum of fuss and expense, and the guy can get the help he probably needs.

  • by eparker05 (1738842) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:24AM (#31670232)

    "the more attention you give morons, the more they'll act like morons."

    I disagree with your sentiment. If you publicly embarrass somebody for acting stupidly. They often think twice before acting stupidly again. What we need is more bad press for these types of people, like that town in Africa where everybody claimed to be getting sick from radio waves until they were told that the tower had been turned off two weeks prior. Also there is the guy who became violently ill only when cell phones rang (but not when they communicated with the cell tower silently). Yea. Lots of stupid people more need attention.

    Scientology too... but that is another thread.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:25AM (#31670238) Journal

    ...without telling the Moron, and then let the moron keep insisting "your wireless makes me sick". It would be funny. Especially in court.

  • by Drethon (1445051) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:27AM (#31670284)
    Or if he can tell the difference between those wifi devices and the electric generators on the trains running behind his house (just actually read the article...)
  • Re:Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:31AM (#31670352)
    if the SCO lawsuits can make it to court anything can.
  • by IBBoard (1128019) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:31AM (#31670364) Homepage

    Are you in America and seeking large sums of money for no real cause?

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:35AM (#31670416)
    Or even better. Ask him how he knows the wireless devices are on?
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:35AM (#31670420)
    1) Mount a satellite dish on the wall of a long room.
    2) Place a chair at the opposite end of the room.
    3) Have this guy sit in the chair for an hour.
    4) See how much he complains about headaches, how much he acts up, how he has been brain-poisoned etc.
    5) Show him that the dish is not connected to anything, and never has been.

    If he doesn't react, affix it to a signal generator and see how he performs in an actual scientifically conducted test. But do it my way first, then make it into an amusing video montage so everyone knows how much of a tool he is.
  • Re:Mercy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:38AM (#31670468)

    No, the guy is simply a jerk. He knew before she even moved in that she uses these devices. He's trying to cash in and from reading the article this women is too afraid to even leave her house because of this dick and his friend.

    From the article..

    I have always made myself available to them at all hours," she said. "We communicate often through Skype, Gmail chat, video and audio sessions."

    Firstenberg knew this when he mentioned to her that the Casados Street house was for rent, but after Monribot moved in, he and a friend insisted that she turn off her Wi-Fi router and other equipment. She tried to comply, but felt harassed.

  • by slim (1652) <john@nOspam.hartnup.net> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:39AM (#31670494) Homepage

    For that to work, he'd have to believe that Faraday cages work.
    Since he clearly has no truck with science, why would he believe that?

  • by DrMaurer (64120) <danlowlite&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:39AM (#31670502) Homepage

    The actions of one inside one's house and freedom of movement and ability to do what you want within the law? That's not freedom? That wouldn't fall under their human rights? Seriously?

    Unless you think just food is a human right. Then I think you would be OK with people going and stealing food because they have a right to not starve. Certain rights have implications beyond the obvious.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:39AM (#31670506)

    Are the dairies pouring the milk into your house and forcing you to drink it?

    Not that I think this case has any merit, but your analogy doesn't match up – if this guys claims were actually true, then his neighbour would be actively doing something that was harming him, not just passively sitting there holding something that could harm him if it were used against him.

  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:41AM (#31670524)

    From the summary:

    "I feel as if my life and liberty are under attack for no valid reason, and it has forced me to have to defend my very basic human rights."'"

    Ok, so the guy filing the suit is a moron and the suit has no technical merit at all. But really? Running a router is now a basic human right? A little melodramatic don't you think?

    Well, some places are declaring Internet access a human right...

    But I don't think that's really the point.

    Generally speaking, you're allowed to do what you want within the confines of your own house. Of course you still can't murder people and whatnot... But it's a little unusual for your neighbors to be able to dictate what kind of telephone you use, and whether your Internet connection is wired or wireless, or whether you can own or use a cell phone. Those are all liberties that we pretty much take for granted.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:41AM (#31670536)

    I'm impressed. There are so many solid arguments against those who claim sensitivity to consumer electronics, I didn't think anyone could possibly come forward asserting such a poor one as yours.

    If you tried to apply your "lactose intolerant" analogy, don't you suppose your opponent would point out that the makers of your favorite foods don't project those foods into your home against your wishes?

    If these sensitivities were real (though I very much doubt that they are), he would have a point. Just because something has become socially common doesn't mean it's ok to do if it later turns out that it harms others in their own home. The key phrase is if they were real; so this point is moot unless someone can show some credible scientific basis for anything beyond the psychosomatic.

    I don't know if this guy really believes he's sensitive or if he's just a complete asshat. It sure looks like he figured he saw a way to make a quick buck by convincing someone he knew uses electronics to move in to the next house over.

  • Re:use UTP then (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:48AM (#31670678) Homepage

    I'm sorry... UTP is not the answer. The answer is to tell this guy to go fuck himself. I'm not responsible for changing my behavior because some other nutbar has a psychosomatic illness. That's for him and his doctors to deal with. Not me and his lawyers.

  • Re:use UTP then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:49AM (#31670710)

    being able to sit my laptop on the counter without worrying about tripping over a cable is worth more than the crazy demands of a delusional hypochondriac.
    Good neighbours put up their own EM shielding when they suffer from imaginary conditions.

  • by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:53AM (#31670790) Homepage
    These people don't get embarrassed.
  • Just give the idiot plaintiff a double blind test, and we can move on with our lives.

  • by tthomas48 (180798) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:01AM (#31670914) Homepage

    "And, I'm sorry to say, probably win."*

    *Citation needed

    Just because you're jaded doesn't mean reality matches your view.

  • by pz (113803) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:02AM (#31670930) Journal

    ...when you are the victim. Don't know for an Wireless AP but I go real headaches from a telco's base station. It was as close as 70 meters from my appartment and although it was 4 storeys higher than my home it still made me sick. And the most interesting part: while climbing the stairs to my appartment going through the floors when I was getting near my floor the nasty sensation was setting off. So the guy may be in his right. All he did was to buy a house and then waited till somebody started making him sick. Why don't you look from the other side - make the lady put her house in a Faraday cage if she insist on her wireless?

    Where's the control in your experiment? How do you know that it was the tower and not, say, the ultrasonic pest repellent devices that your landlord had installed on your floor? Or any of a half dozen frequently used but kind of nasty chemicals that are routinely found in apartment buildings? Or the flickering old-style fluorescent lights? Frankly, the fact that the sensation wasn't worse OUTSIDE when the building isn't shielding you from what sounds like line-of-sight irradiation makes me dubious that the source of your headaches have been properly isolated.

    Or, you're trolling, and I fell for it.

  • by osgeek (239988) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:02AM (#31670940) Homepage Journal

    I disagree with your sentiment. If you publicly embarrass somebody for acting stupidly. They often think twice before acting stupidly again.

    Well, you've got two problems with this disagreement.

    1. People rationalize pretty much any behavior they intentionally exhibit. The most hardened of criminals in lock-up feel that they don't deserve it. What they did wasn't that wrong, or society made them do it, or they were justified because of some wrong they perceived against themselves. It's no different with this guy. What he's doing is right no matter what the judge says, what his neighbors say, what the general public says. It wouldn't be very surprising if it were shown that he deceptively uses a laptop or visual observations to know that his neighbor is using wifi or her cell phone. I'm sure he'd view these things as justified because of "what she's doing".

    If I'm wrong, he should go for the Randi prize. I bet they'd agree to test him if he claimed to be sensitive to the types of EMR described in the story.

    2. Many people do feed off of the negative attention. Just look at the enormous amount of effort that Slashdot editors and the moderation system go to in order to fend off the trolls. Trolls are the people that get a warm fuzzy feeling when they see someone frowning or imagine that they're frowning.

  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:06AM (#31671020)

    The devices in question are already approved by the Federal government for use in residential settings.

    That more than likely trumps any claims by this nutcase*.

    It will be up to the nutcase* himself to insulate or shield the interior of his home.

    Think about it - if instead of electromagnetic sensitivity he thought he had car sensitivity - cars driving by his house made him sick. He'd want to stop people from driving on the street, but that's another government sanctioned activity that no court would let him impose restrictions on.

    *nutcase - someone with a psychological disorder that they think is caused by something external, instead of the truth which is that he's got too much time on his hands. He should really buy an old mine and live underground if he wants to avoid RF.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:07AM (#31671056) Homepage

    He probably saw her using her iPhone and it made him feel sick.

    I have the same problem... but only when I see them texting while driving at 90.

  • by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:12AM (#31671158) Homepage
    Do you have a source for that? I've heard such stories (in different versions) several times and it starts to feel like an Urban-Legend.
  • by Otto (17870) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:30AM (#31671540) Homepage Journal

    Being able to sense electromagnetic fields, using no devices or other assistance, in a double blind trial, would definitely be worthy of the $1,000,000 from JREF.

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html [randi.org]

    Anybody who claims to be sensitive to this sort of thing and who has not won the million bucks is basically a flat-out liar.

  • by IICV (652597) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:32AM (#31671592)

    That only works if the reporting is embarrassing. What tends to happen in the United States is that the reporters try to pretend that they are unbiased, and as such give equal weight to both the retarded side and the rational side - after all if there are two sides to an argument, then obviously there's a 50/50 chance that either side is true, right?

    Thus, some moron like this guy and his woo-filled doctor* get put up against Dr. Bob Park, a physicist at the University of Maryland. That's not embarrassing at all; it puts these two idiots on an equal level with someone who's spent his entire career studying the subject. It's fucking flattering.

    *Just because you have an MD doesn't mean you're qualified to determine whether "electrosensitivity" is a condition, no matter what the gullible reporter thinks. Do you think that a lady who pushes the always-vague "toxins" theory of chronic disease knows anything about electromagnetism beyond what she learned in Freshman physics?

  • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:00PM (#31672234)

    And what about the poor person who is actually suffering because of this idiot? You don't think the plight of this person should be made known to the world?

    My wife was sued last year for a completely stupid reason, and one of the worst parts of the experience for me was knowing that we were getting screwed and nobody in the world gave a crap about it.

  • Re:Ugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schon (31600) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:15PM (#31672484)

    This is case were there is no evidence that the plaintiff's claims or medical affliction have any basis in reality.

    No, SCO had *no* evidence. They were given *everything* they asked for, every single benefit of every doubt, and they came up with no more that this guy's case - basically Darl's claim that "we *must* own the copyrights!"

    The only difference is the this guy probably honestly believes he's being affected, whereas SCO knew that they had no case.

  • by raddan (519638) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:17PM (#31672518)
    Actually, it looks like this guy has a very long history [wikipedia.org] of being nutty about EMF. I'm inclined to say that he's just nutty. Unfortunately, you can't argue with a nut. The best thing for his neighbor to do is to end this case as quickly as possible and them move to a new neighborhood.

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