Apple sued over claims Amber Alert permanently damaged hearing of child wearing AirPods

midian182

Posts: 7,902   +82
Staff member
In brief: Apple and its manufacturing partner are being sued by the family of a 12-year-old boy over allegations he suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of an Amber Alert playing at an "ear-shattering level" through his AirPods Pro.

Street Insider reports that the boy's family is suing both Apple and its manufacturing partner Luxhshare in the lawsuit filed in San Jose, California, this week. Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes say their son, identified only as B.G, must now wear a hearing aid for the rest of his life as a result of the Amber Alert.

The family says the incident occurred when B.G. was watching Netflix on his iPhone with one of the wireless buds in his right ear. According to the suit, an Amber Alert played at a level so loud it "tore apart" B.G.'s eardrum, damaged his cochlea, and injured his hearing. In addition to requiring a hearing aid due to hearing loss, he now suffers from tinnitus and dizziness.

Apple and Luxshare are accused of "negligence and fraud for failing to properly design and test the devices, failing to warn users that the earbuds are prone to rapid and unexpected increases in ear volume, and failing to properly manufacture the AirPods."

The suit adds that if Apple had designed the AirPods to self-adjust to safe levels or provide warnings about the volume increases associated with alerts, B.G. would be "living a normal life."

Cupertino is also accused of receiving at least 1,538 complaints about sudden volume increases occurring with the AirPods through alerts or notifications since 2019.

The family is seeking damages for the boy's physical harm, pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, emotional trauma, and future medical expenses, as well as punitive damages against Apple.

Amber Alerts are emergency, government, and public safety alerts that cover imminent threats to safety and life, as well as extreme weather conditions. They can be turned off in the Settings app, though Government alerts cannot be turned off in some countries and regions.

Permalink to story.

 

m4a4

Posts: 2,894   +3,704
TechSpot Elite
A company shouldn't be sued for parental negligence or personal stupidity.
...Except when said company didn't test an alert, that they automatically override to max volume, for in-ear headsets (that they brand as their own).

Why don't you give the scenario a test and let us know if your faultless company protects you from a liability like hearing damage?
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,763   +7,676
Yep, despite so many years of OSHA notices as well as other Federal Agencies, these manufacturers continue to overdo it. Apple should be fined heavily for this one and forced to pay all medical expenses related to this issue for the rest of the young man's life. And Apple should be put on notice they risk loosing their business licenses if they don't straighten out any and all current and future products ....
 

Thanthan

Posts: 76   +162
A company shouldn't be sued for parental negligence or personal stupidity.

A company that manufactures products that cause harm to the individuals using them through no apparent fault of their own is actually just the kind of company that should be sued… If you’d bothered to read the article you might have noticed that the claim is a valid one. Whether it’s actually true and holds up in court is of course an entirely separate matter, but the events described in the article constitute a very clear legal case…
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,454   +2,419
This is the first I've ever heard about this happening to anyone.
They are in-ear headphones, so IF this story is true and the sound level has potential to do damage, that's way too much for an alert to go off directly into your ear. Alerts through headphones should be reduced to 50% of max volume or less.

I'd love for Apple to take heat for this, but I'm going to assume it's not true.

Is a Freudian slip via fingers possible? I initially typed head instead of heat...
 

mrfunk

Posts: 14   +14
I don't understand how this exact case hasn't been brought up many moons ago. Many people of all ages are wearing apple ear buds right now and when the occasional missing child alert comes I imagine a BUNCH of those people would get hearing damage just like in this story. Why is this story just now coming to light? How is it possible that apple hasn't fixed this issue a LONG time ago?

Was there an update pushed that led to this?
 

passwordistaco

Posts: 212   +513
Yep, despite so many years of OSHA notices as well as other Federal Agencies, these manufacturers continue to overdo it. Apple should be fined heavily for this one and forced to pay all medical expenses related to this issue for the rest of the young man's life. And Apple should be put on notice they risk loosing their business licenses if they don't straighten out any and all current and future products ....
The alleged harm in this case was with Apple products, but Google needs to fix this in Android too.
 

sreams

Posts: 288   +411
This is the first I've ever heard about this happening to anyone.
They are in-ear headphones, so IF this story is true and the sound level has potential to do damage, that's way too much for an alert to go off directly into your ear. Alerts through headphones should be reduced to 50% of max volume or less.

I'd love for Apple to take heat for this, but I'm going to assume it's not true.

Is a Freudian slip via fingers possible? I initially typed head instead of heat...

It would be pretty easy to test and confirm.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 687   +508
They should also sue Netflix for having low volume on their content requiring user to max the volume on their headphones in order to watch content on their huge 6" screens.

edit: I do regret what happened to the kid. That is unfortunate and sad, and no money is going to make it better.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422
My airpod pros are on 100% all the time. They best not make them quieter because of this disgusting family who are clearly just after some cash. AirPods have been out years, if they could actually damage your hearing we’d know about it by now.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,156   +2,656
Thanks to mommy & daddy government for pushing these alerts.
Just like the interrupt you every 2-3 minutes watching tv for a severe thunderstorm.
If you are that unaware of the weather around you...let Darwinism run its course.
Now we'll be flooded with a bunch of "if you or a loved one suffered hearing damage
from Apple airpods, YOU could be entitled to substantial financial compensation.
Contact the law offices of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe".
 

dangh

Posts: 579   +918
At least 150dB and/or 5psi is needed to rupture an eardrum. I’m not aware of AirPods doing more than 100dB.
obviously age of a person do not matter, your eardrum will handle that no matter if you're 30, 80 or 1 year old... /s
 

dangh

Posts: 579   +918
Thanks to mommy & daddy government for pushing these alerts.
Just like the interrupt you every 2-3 minutes watching tv for a severe thunderstorm.
If you are that unaware of the weather around you...let Darwinism run its course.
Now we'll be flooded with a bunch of "if you or a loved one suffered hearing damage
from Apple airpods, YOU could be entitled to substantial financial compensation.
Contact the law offices of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe".
Alerts are required and usually that is not an issue. The issue is untested product on the market which causes harm.
 

Bp968

Posts: 252   +180
obviously age of a person do not matter, your eardrum will handle that no matter if you're 30, 80 or 1 year old... /s

The maximum for typical earbuds is 110dB. That should be uncomfortable enough most people would quickly rip it from their ear but are unlikely to suffer severe *acute* trauma like that.

I had a 165dB gunshot go off near my ear without it rupturing anything (though it certainly hurt). I also caused an injury high diving off a boathouse into deep water and causing pressure trauma to the eardrum (at age 12 no less) and once again, no ruptured eardrum or lasting harm.

Earbuds are *bad* for peoples ears, full stop. But not because of transient volume spikes. The main issue is they do a very poor job of blocking exterior noise so people turn the volume up to drown out everything else.

I do agree that its a partial parental failure. I'm *not* a parent and yet I know to steer children (and anyone who wants to protect their hearing) away from earbuds and towards a full ear covering headset that has good noise suppression abilities.

Sudden high intensity sounds are bad for your hearing, but they also tend to cause pain and thus a pain reaction (to stop the pain). Earbuds danger is the more insidious long term cumulative noise.

At 44 I have a tiny bit of frequency loss in my right ear. My audiologist wasn't sure why it only in that ear until I explained to her how a semi-automatic rifle works. The ejection port is quite close to your right ear and so that ear takes a higher pressure hit with each shot. Even though I religiously wear hearing protection and use suppressors, its about total quantity. 165-170dB, dripped to 135-140dB with ear protection and another 20-30dB drop with a suppressor would have probably protected my right ear better but I typically used one or the other.

If it doesn't hurt its fine right? Sadly thats not true. I'm just glad I caught it really early so it wont ever be a real issue. Not like some of my friends who were in artillery for example. Even with ear pro and standing 100 meters back those things rattled your brain!
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 70   +38
It's been well documented by OSHA and many other Health/Safety Orgs around the world that noise over 60 decibels risks hearing loss. This needs to be addressed and hard configured into the hardware to limit noise levels to no more then that just to prevent such an issue. Is Apple Responsible? Yes along with the manufacturer of the AirPods if there we physical damage to the boys ear drum. That needs to be proven in court but that isn't something that's going to be difficult to prove and even though it's possible to repair an ear drum, it's neither cheap or a simple outpatient process.
 
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Dd663

I had a 165dB gunshot go off near my ear without it rupturing anything (though it certainly hurt).
A single instance like that is enough to cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Loud noises are no joke.

It's been well documented by OSHA and many other Health/Safety Orgs around the world that noise over 60 decibels risks hearing loss.
That's a bit low, I think. The zone where you should be concerned starts at around 80 decibels.

 
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Bp968

Posts: 252   +180
It's been well documented by OSHA and many other Health/Safety Orgs around the world that noise over 60 decibels risks hearing loss. This needs to be addressed and hard configured into the hardware to limit noise levels to no more then that just to prevent such an issue. Is Apple Responsible? Yes along with the manufacturer of the AirPods if there we physical damage to the boys ear drum. That needs to be proven in court but that isn't something that's going to be difficult to prove and even though it's possible to repair an ear drum, it's neither cheap or a simple outpatient process.
The osha standards say 85dB for longer than *8 hours* risks hearing damage. 85dB is over 100 times louder than 60dB.

60dB is the level of a normal human conversation at 3.5 feet.

If you limited everything to 60dB it would be a very different world. Cities would essentially become verboten, most construction would stop, etc.

Also, 60dB headphones would require extremely tight fitting and well sealed ear cups otherwise you would likely find them useless and never buy them.
 
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Dd663

I went to a Coldplay concert in 2008 or 2009 (back when they were still good) and it was way, way too loud, even though we were out in the grass. I stood around plugging my ears for the first while until eventually I gave up and just subjected my ears to it, either out of annoyance or concern about looking silly. That was back before I knew more about noise-induced hearing loss. I should have brought earplugs.

Another bad noise event was school "rallies", where they gathered all the students into a large echoey gym with bleachers and had them yell as loud as they could. Stupid. Thankfully I recall plugging my ears during those, being more concerned about my hearing than about looking dumb.

Then, one time when I was working at a museum, some construction-type worker(s) dropped a very large metal object onto the hard floor somewhere nearby, making a deafening sound with no warning whatsoever. I was very annoyed.
 
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