Roberto Romeo, 57, had his company-issued cellphone virtually glued to his ear for three to four hours each day over his 15 years of working for Telecom Italia. After developing a Brain Tumor, Romeo took legal action and on Thursday an Italian Court awarded the telecommunications worker damages related to the brain tumor, caused by the excessive cellphone usage required for his job.

In its landmark decision, the court stated that INAIL, the national insurance scheme in Italy covering workplace accidents, must pay Romeo 500 euros ($535) a month in damages.

As reported by the International Business Times, this decision came after it was shown that the worker had damage – both from the brain tumor and the necessary operation – to 23 percent of his bodily functions.

Telecom worker had no choice but to use his cellphone for hours each day

In his testimony, Romeo told the court that he had no choice but to use his cellphone, both to talk to colleagues and to organize his work, for hours each day. He said for 15 years he was calling all the time, whether from home or in his car. Eventually he found that his right ear appeared to be blocked, and upon getting this checked out by doctors in 2010, the brain tumor was diagnosed. According to Romeo, the tumor was luckily benign.

However, he no longer has hearing, as doctors had to remove his acoustic nerve.

Romeo’s lawyer, Stefano Berton, said he believes the verdict was the first of its kind in the world that recognized a link between cellphone use and the development of a brain tumor.

Berton applauded the court’s decision to not accept various scientific studies – reportedly financed by the telecommunications industry – into evidence. Berton did say a similar case almost went to court in 2012, after a sales manager who used a cellphone for five to six hours a day developed a similar health problem, but the trial court reportedly denied that case.

However, Berton believes the latest judgment will pave the way for future, similar cases.

Moderate usage of cellphones might be safe

As for Romeo, he did go on to stress that he didn’t believe it was necessarily bad to use cellphones in moderation, but he says the public should be aware of safety issues, especially when using a cellphone to the extent he was forced to during his employment with Telecom Italia.

According to Deutsche Welle, most research into the use of cellphones has concluded that moderate usage does not pose a substantial risk to health. However, according to some experts, only time will tell what the long-term effects of heavy mobile usage may be.