Despite judgment, lawyer believes Fay School case is a win for WiFi safety advocates
by Scott O’Connell, Telegram & Gazette Staff, 12 June 2018
WORCESTER – While disappointed in a federal judge’s ruling against his clients last week, the attorney representing a family who sued a Southboro private school over its WiFi practices said on Tuesday the case still represents a legal step forward for people wary of electromagnetic radiation.
John Markham also said his clients haven’t ruled out an appeal in their case, which ended Friday when District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman submitted a judgment in favor of the Fay School, a day and boarding school.
“We were hoping to go to trial, and looking forward to it. We’re disappointed we didn’t get that trial,” Mr. Markham said Tuesday. But the judge also made some rulings in the case, he added, that “really advances the ball for parents concerned about their kids being subjected to WiFi radiation seven hours a day ... this (issue) is not over at all.”
The anonymous plaintiffs, a mother and father and their son, “G,” who attended the school for most of his education, said the boy suffers from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome, and that the WiFi in his classroom was sickening him. They accused the Fay School of refusing to make accommodations to alleviate his condition, such as replacing his classroom’s wireless internet with cable internet.
Scientists and medical authorities have questioned the legitimacy of electromagnetic hypersensitivity as an actual diagnosis, however, as well as the general premise that everyday WiFi exposure is harmful to humans. The World Health Organization, for example, has concluded “there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure,” and advises physicians to focus on treating EHS sufferers’ symptoms, “not on the person’s perceived need for reducing or eliminating EMF in the workplace or home.”
But Mr. Markham said the Fay School case at least sets the precedent that the court system is a legitimate venue for EHS sufferers to take their complaints about electromagnetic radiation. Specifically, he said Judge Hillman’s ruling in September that the family’s case wasn’t restricted to the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission – the government authority on acceptable electromagnetic radiation levels – means other people with EHS could file similar suits against schools or other places where WiFi exposure is constant.
Despite the research that’s already been done on the subject, Mr. Markham believes a definitive case disproving WiFi’s dangers has yet to be made. “It’s like cigarettes in the ’50s,” he said. “I don’t know how the science on this will shake out ... but nobody’s absolutely sure about this stuff.”
In the meantime, he said G, who currently attends St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, and his parents are “still digesting what they want to do” in the wake of Judge Hillman’s decision.