(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) — A California woman claims “smart” parking meters are making her sick, and now, she wants nearly $2 billion because of it.
Denise Barton filed a claim against the city of Santa Monica, Calif., for $1.7 billion alleging the radiation from “smart” parking meters around the city are causing health complications, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
“In April, they started turning on the new smart meters downtown and I started getting sick,” Barton told ABC News.
On Aug. 6, Barton filed the $1.7 billion claim that gives the city 45 days to respond.
“I figured that’s the value of my life and health considering how much I had to go through as a child,” Barton told ABC News.
Barton, who experienced neurological damage following a car accident as a young child, added, “It’s also the value of taking away my choice of the best way to protect my health without my consent.”
The “smart” meters, which were installed by the city last March, allow drivers to use smartphones and credit cards to purchase metered time. The parking slots have sensors that will reset a meter when a parking space is vacated.
According to a spokesperson for the city of Santa Monica, “The meters use basic wireless technology that is commonly available and utilized in WiFi and cellular communications.”
Smart meters use a cellphone network to communicate for two to four seconds when a censor detects a vehicle or when a censor detects a vehicle leaving, assistant finance director Don Patterson told ABC News.
But it’s the high-tech capabilities that Barton alleged have caused ear infections and tightness on the back, left side of her neck and an irregular period.
Deb Hossli, a risk manager for Santa Monica, told ABC News the city’s liability adjuster is currently investigating to determine if the claim will be honored or rejected.
“We’re not concerned about any health risks. It basically uses a very weak WiFi signal that only communicates between the meter and the censor in each space,” Patterson told ABC News.
Over the years, there has been much debate about whether cellphones can cause cancer. Earlier this year, the Environmental Health Trust called into question a report that found little evidence that cellphones were connected to brain cancer.
“The city doesn’t regulate communication,” said Patterson. “What we’re using is what basically is widely available cellphone technology. If you have WiFi in your house, it’s the same technology. If you have a cellphone, then that portion of the technology is the same. It’s all off-the-shelf technology.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Susan Scutti, CNN