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Woman Wants $1.7 Billion for Alleged Smart Meter Ailments

One of the priciest claims in Santa Monica history might be tough to prove.

When 10 people were killed and 63 injured in connection with the car crash at Santa Monica’s downtown farmers’ market  victims were paid a total of $22 million.

But it’s a fraction of the $1.7 billion one woman believes she deserves to make up for a myriad of health problems she blames on the city’s new parking meters.

If the city denies the claim, which is traditionally a precursor to a lawsuit, and the case heads to court, Denise Barton's theory will be tough to prove.

Studies have failed to prove conclusively that exposure to such low frequency radiation, like the radio waves broadcast from antennas, microwaves and cell telephones, pose health risks, according to UCLA’s Chief of Radiology, Christopher Cagnon.

"Anything is possible, but the risk has never been proven—ever," Cagnon said.

The physicist wasn't familiar with the particulars of Barton's case, but dismissed it as "frivolous."

In addition to the $1.7 billion, Barton's claim also seeks $1.7 million a month, an amount she says represents the value of her life.

"This is just blatant negligence," she said. "The city didn't do enough research."

The city only tracks settlement amounts, but Deputy City Manager Kate Vernez said she believes Barton's is one of the largest claims in Santa Monica's 126-year history. The farmers’ market settlement has so far been its priciest.

Barton contends her symptoms started in April, when the city began installing the sensors in meters near her apartment. The sensors are below ground and communicate wirelessly with the meters to record parking data and prevent meter-feeding. They were first installed on selected blocks in downtown in March 2011 under a pilot project to replace old coin-only parking meters.

Microwave and radiowaves, which heat cells, are at the opposite end of the electromagnetic spectrum from more powerful forms such as gamma rays and X-rays. The latter can break chemical bonds and have been proven to permanently damage body tissue and injure cells.

"Radio waves are not known to have any effect on people at any level," said Don Jose, a Pennsylvania-based attorney who specializes in radiation litigation. He called Barton's claim "a nut case."

In a phone interview, Barton surmised the ailments might also be due to smart meters. She said doctors have instructed her to contact the utility company.

"I'm sensative to to radiation due to cat scans, some with injections of radioactive dye, as a child," she wrote in the claim. 

She pointed to reports of Northern California cities signing moratoriums against smart meters after backlash from the public who feared for their health. Anti-smart meter folks say the health risks of radiowaves haven't been disproven, either.

"You can’t rule anything out," said UCLA physicist Cagnon.

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cpezz August 19, 2012 at 02:08 AM
it's insane the ignorance about the topic, not insane speak up against who wont care about it. same problem with EMF. God money make you a loser not develop a point of failure what health is about and what means! Wake up, study and travel more!
Dan Charney August 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Well, you know, come to think of it, I am greatly bothered by this too and guess what?? I am willing to settle without a claim or a lawsuit for the paltry sum of only half a million!!! Wow- just send the check please...oh wait... I am hearing voices now- make that 750K - thanks
Denise Barton August 20, 2012 at 08:18 AM
I can appreciate the opposing points of view, no matter how slanted I think it may be. But please allow me to reference medical studies due to pulsed radio frequency and microwave radiation exposure. As cited in the California Department of Health-Santa Cruz document, dated December 2011, on smart meters, including smart parking meters. Such as, Eberhardt 2008, Phillips 2011, Blank 2011, Volkow 2011, Halsberg 2011, Genuis 2011 and the Sage Report, which can be accessed by googling smart meters, sage report, January 7, 2011, to name a few for all the scientific skeptics.
Douglas Fay August 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Although I don't know Denise Barton I would like to see less wireless radio waves, not more. Or at the very least be aloud to choose if you want your family exposed or not without being financially burdened. Many scientists say nuclear energy is safe when often if there is an accident it is not. SCE is currently forcing smart meter opt out penalties on renters. This is wrong. Especially when the property owner does not want smart meters installed. Overall the wireless craze health risks are significant.
Henrik Eiriksson August 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
It's interesting that Don Jose claims: "Radio waves are not known to have any effect on people at any level,". Maybe Mr. Jose would then like to explain why official exposure limits are in place for radio waves? There's a scientific debate about the mechanisms of harm from radio waves, but even the wireless industry admits that they can cause heating. The references that Denise Barton presents in her comment are scientific studies on the non-thermal effects of radio waves - meaning that those effects occur at exposure levels far below the threshold for heating. (take-away hint: the official exposure limits are far far too lenient)

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