What’s an ear infection, ringing of the ears, and tightness of the neck/back worth? According to a California woman, it’s worth $1.7 billion. Yes, you read that right! That’s billion with a “b,” not million with an “m.” And the culprit that has caused such grievous injury? None other than the city’s newly installed “smart” parking meters.
The City of Santa Monica, California recently installed smart parking meters that allow drivers to use smartphones and credit cards to purchase metered time. The parking meter slots have sensors that will reset a meter when a parking space is vacated. A local woman named Denise Barton recently filed a lawsuit seeking a mere $1.7 billion plus $1.7 million per month thereafter in damages because the wireless signals emitted from the meters are making her sick. Apparently, shortly after the parking meters were installed, she developed an ear infection which required antibiotics to treat. She must have one hell of a doctor, because he was able narrow the cause down to the city’s new parking meters.
The City of Santa Monica claims the wireless emission is at a very low level and extends only up to eight feet from the meter. Assistant Finance Director Don Patterson told the Santa Monica Daily Press, “The Wi-Fi is very low level and only communicates between the meter and the sensor, about 5 to 8 feet… It’s the same as someone using a cell phone walking on the sidewalk.” According to the city, the meters comply with all necessary regulations related to wireless communication.
There have been no other complaints over health issues caused by the meters, except those of Barton. Although the dangers of wireless radiation have been widely disputed, the studies usually focus on holding a cell phone to your head for long periods of time. The studies don’t access the dangers of walking past someone sending a text message. Then again, we’re sure Barton’s attorneys have some great new studies because we all know an attorney would never file a frivolous claim. However, if that’s the case, why on earth isn’t she suing the cell phone carriers for her health issues? Perhaps those mammoth companies don’t have deep enough pockets for her $1.7 billion claims?