Woman sues Santa Monica for $1.7B, saying ‘smart’ parking meters are making her sick
A California woman is suing the city of Santa Monica for $1.7 billion, claiming radiation from the new “smart” parking meters is making her sick.
Denise Barton says she’s suffered ear infections, tightness in her neck and back and an irregular period since the smartphone-friendly meters were installed last March.
“I figured that’s the value of my life and health, considering how much I had to go through as a child,” Barton, who also suffered neurological damage after a car accident when she was younger, told ABC News.
Barton also seeks $1.7 million each month, after the $1.7 billion she demanded in the claim, filed on Aug. 6, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. She says the city shouldn’t be able to implement potentially harmful technology.
“I know it seems a little big, but they can’t do things that affect people’s health without their consent,” Barton told the newspaper. “I think that’s wrong.”
The new meters allow drivers to use their smartphones and credit cards to purchase parking minutes. Sensors detect when a car leaves the space and clear any money that’s left on the meter.
“The meters use basic wireless technology that is commonly available and utilized in Wi-Fi and cellular communications,” a city spokesperson told ABC News.
Assistant Finance Director Don Patterson said the radiation level is “the same as someone using a cell phone walking on the sidewalk,” according to 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,” Patterson said in an email to the newspaper.
Patterson adds that Barton’s claim is the only complaint of its type that has been made about the meters.
Barton says her health problems began in late April, shortly after the meters were installed. She went to the doctor in May with an ear infection, and was prescribed antibiotics.
The city is investigating Barton’s claim and has 45 days to respond.
“We’re not concerned with any health risks,” Patterson told ABC News.
Medical researchers have reported mixed findings about whether cell phones cause major health problems. According to the National Cancer Institute, while cell phones do emit radio frequency energy, a form of radiation, no study has shown a conclusive link between cell phone use and cancer.