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Man Sues Neighbor Claiming Wi-Fi Made Him Sick 574

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 Labcoat Samurai ( 1517479 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:23AM (#31670190)
    This is the irritating thing about it. You can harass people with frivolous lawsuits, and, while the judge may throw them out, the lawyers still get paid. Provided the guy's lawyer asks for his fee up front, what is his disincentive to file lawsuits like this one? I really wish lawyers could receive some sort of punishment or censure for wasting the court's time and enabling harassment.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:40AM (#31670512)

    We had something similar happening here, where people started complaining about the electromagnetic field from a cell repeater tower.

    PR statement from the telco: "Gee, wonder what it'll be like when we turn it on in a few weeks..."

    Needless to say that the court tossed the suit without a hearing.

  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:45AM (#31670596)

    A more apt analogy would be somebody who develops extreme sun sensitivity late in life, and then attempts to sue the sun.

    And as much as I'd like to believe this is a really, really stupid example, I somehow can not completely discount the possibility of this happening someday, somewhere.

  • Re:it's not so funny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @10:54AM (#31670798) Homepage

    Have you considered that what you're experiencing might be due to high frequency sound instead of EM radiation? There's a lot more evidence for that at least, and it's the only thing that could set the telco base station different from wifi. There is absolutely jack and shit for evidence that people can feel normal radio and other communications-style radiation.

    The guy is not right. Period, end of story. And if you think he is, perhaps you should go talk to your doctor about the possibility of you suffering from a psychosomatic illness and treatment options.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:03AM (#31670968)

    Oh, almost forgot: Of course the complaint was repeated a few weeks later when they turned it on.

    The judge issued a fine for wasting the court's time a second time. Don't remember the exact wording, but the general meaning was something like "don't play smart, we already know that you fake it".

    Reading verdicts can be quite entertaining at times. Especially when judges display a sense of humor.

  • by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <Bakkster,man&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:04AM (#31670980)

    I wouldn't categorically say all of them are morons. Assuming they aren't intentionally claiming to be sick to get their way, they might actually be sick. Sure, it might be a psychosomatic illness rather than physiological one, but either way the person is ill and needs treatment.

    Also, by better separating the morons from the real cases, we can hopefully eventually perform actual research to separate any physiological cases from psychosomatic ones. Then we can hopefully cure both and put an end to cases like this.

  • by dbet ( 1607261 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#31671702)

    GPS's, Cell Phones, Watches

    Years ago working in a lab, after doing an experiment involving radioisotopes, I was doing a routine scan of my work area. My co-worker's hand was coming up hot. She took off her gloves and scanned again, still hot. Not just barely either, this was tipping our counter way past its max sensitivity. She scrubber her hands and it wouldn't go away. It took us a few minutes to realize... it was her watch. Apparently the glow on the hands is some kind of uranium or something.

    What's interesting is that the amount being emitted into her wrist every day was probably more than the amount of job-related radioactivity we were allowed to be exposed to in a month.

  • by amplt1337 ( 707922 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:56AM (#31672134) Journal

    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.

    Er, no offense, but no he wouldn't. He'd have a sensitivity that it would be incumbent upon him to solve. Otherwise what's to stop him from moving into an apartment in the center of a city and demanding that everyone in the building stop using electronics? He's welcome to retrofit his home to make it a Faraday cage if he wishes, but he has no right to restrict the law-abiding behavior of his neighbor in *her* home just because he's (supposedly) a genetic freak who can sense EMF radiation.

  • by brufleth ( 534234 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:56AM (#31672140)
    There was a similar issue in Boston but with a woman who bought a place and found out smokers lived below her. She could actually smell the smoke in her condo and claimed it made her sick. That was a case of real detrimental environmental issues caused by a neighbor. The courts still didn't make the smoker change their habits. Any judge siding with this EMI sensitivity wacko needs to have their case log reviewed.
  • Re:Mercy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:14PM (#31673626)

    Be careful when saying things like "mental illness is as real as any physical illness". In order to equate mental illness with physical illness, you must equate imagination with reality. If I imagine my arm is broken, that doesn't make it physically broken. If I imagine I have a brain tumor, that doesn't mean I have a brain tumor.

    But, if I imagine I feel pain, then that might be equal to "actually" feeling pain, since pain is an imaginary symptom (occurring literally only in your head).

    So, it's true in some ways, and untrue in other ways. Just make sure to be clear on what you mean.

  • As a licensed amateur radio operator, I've seen this phenomenon for decades.

    30 years ago, a friend salvaged a 40-foot tall antenna tower, obtained the required permits to install it and did so, but he had to wait to save enough money to purchase an actual multi-band antenna to place on it. In the meantime, his neighbor hauled him into small claims court, saying this "huge antenna" was interfering with TV reception by making his television "say" things like "breaker one nine, good buddy" (ie, it was CB'ers, not ham radio operators, causing the interference). I helped my friend prepare his defense and as a result, the judge almost got all the word "dumbass" out before he stopped himself and dismissed the suit. The crotchety neighbor dismissed all our evidence and stated until his dying day that there was a conspiracy to deprive him of his rights and drive him crazy (like he needed help).

    So giving attention to it only makes rationale people more aware. The crazy remain morons until they die.

  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @03:48PM (#31676070) Homepage

    That people are interfering with your TV and/or radio in order to mess with your head, is standard paranoid delusion nr. 1. It's not just a cliche either, it really is common.

    I wonder why. Maybe static and noise are especially easy for people with schizophrenia to see non-existent patterns in.

    People who claim to get ill by cell phones fall in another category entirely. Sometimes it's simply a perfectly understandable stress reaction - people who literally are sick of getting calls all the time, but prefer to have a physical explanation rather than a psychological. Even Dr. Brundtland, former general secretary of WHO, claimed to have EM sensitivity at one point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:22PM (#31678652)

    I distinctly remember over the past month on American Voice Radio ( [] ) during Doc Mike Witort's show Wake Up Well ( [] ), about a jail guard in Texas that had been getting all kinds of sickly Immune System disorders that graduated to Nerve Damage. This man was a career Jail Guard for over 30 years, being around 50 years-old to this day. Upon doing some investigation about his environment, he found much more than what he expected. A line of jail cells at the prison were reserved for inmates in bad behaviour, a couple rows of solitary confinement areas. All the inmates put in these cells eventually became deathly ill within 4 months, and those of them that spent an accumulative of over 1 year in any of these solitary-confinment cells are either dead or dying of cancers with mental-illness. The same symptoms this career jail guard has been suffering from, but not as quick because his shift rotated often-enough away from this cell block. What he discovered was that just 2-feet outside the solitary-confinement walls there were power lines and communications lines. He went to some kind of ham radio or hobby store to inquire on equipment that could measure any EMF in the area, and what he discovered is much worse than just the measurements. All the inmates placed in these cells had been done so for political reasons and not necessarily behavioral disorder. Consistent with a corrupt warden, the administration was intentionally sending the politically active court gurus into these solitary-confinement cells for periods of time necessary to kill them, and there is an on-going investigation about the premise that administration has been aware of the deaths associated with these chambers far long enough that they intended to continue putting non-violent inmates into these cells with the dirty secret that they will be slowly microwaved by the power and communications lines just a couple feet parallel to the wall.

    So cook me up another batch of your "EMF doesn't cause harm" bullshit, because there is a lot more on the line for felons running jails and prisons using techniques to sedate or punish inmates reminiscent of a Nazi Concentration Camp while charging rent to the Federal or State Governments on average of $40k per year for each inmate and upto $150k for the one's on nasty medications.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost