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16 October 2017

Massachusetts: Wi-Fi Hypersensitivity Case Goes Forward

Wi-Fi Hypersensitivity Case Goes Forward
by Alexis Kramer, Bloomberg BNA, 
13 October 2017

It’s unclear whether someone can be allergic to Wi-Fi. But regardless of the lack of scientific consensus, a lawsuit over a child’s alleged Wi-Fi sensitivities is moving forward.

The parents of a 12-year-old child had sued a Massachusetts private school for allegedly failing to reasonably accommodate their child’s condition—electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome, or EHS. Because of this condition, the parents alleged, the school’s Wi-Fi system gave plaintiff G headaches and nosebleeds, among other symptoms. The parents said the school refused to provide G with a Wi-Fi-free classroom, let G listen to his classes remotely, or let him participate in athletic activities while on medical leave.

A federal district court in Massachusetts tossed four out of five claims against the school. According to the court, G failed to show he has a disability that the school could accommodate under the Americans With Disabilities Act—due to a lack of evidence that the Wi-Fi indeed caused G’s symptoms. The court also rejected G’s contract, misrepresentation, and negligence claims.

But the court let one claim go forward: that the school retaliated against G’s family in violation of the ADA. The court said G sufficiently alleged that the school refused to let G participate in athletics and excluded his brother from an 8th grade graduation dinner, both a direct result of G’s request for an accommodation.

Although G’s condition remains unproven, the court said the plaintiffs had brought their claim in good faith. “Even if the Court were to assume that the Plaintiffs deluded themselves into believing that their son suffered from EHS as a result of their long-term general concerns about the safety of Wi-Fi, this does not preclude the likelihood that the ADA claims were made in good faith,” the court said.

Alexis Kramer
Alexis Kramer has been with Bloomberg BNA since 2014 and serves as a legal editor for the Electronic Commerce & Law Report. She holds a B.F.A. from Long Island University and a J.D. and M.A. in International Affairs from American University’s Washington College of Law. Follow Alexis on Twitter at @alexis_s_kramer.

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