Image: Apple

Apple is being sued by a family in Texas who claims that their 12-year-old boy now suffers from permanent hearing loss and tinnitus after an “ear-shattering” Amber Alert played through his AirPod wireless earbuds and ruptured his right eardrum while he was watching Netflix. Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes, and their son, identified as B.G. in the lawsuit filed Monday in San Jose, California, federal court, are accusing Apple of gross negligence and fraud, alleging that the company’s AirPods are defective products that play alerts at dangerous volumes regardless of what the user has set the volume at. Apple’s family of AirPod devices is in its third generation and includes a Pro model, which features active noise cancellation for “immersive sound” and “magic like you’ve never heard.”

“This boy’s life has been severely altered because Apple did not provide a warning about the volume levels of its AirPods, leading to his permanent hearing loss,” PMR Law’s Tej Paranjpe, a lawyer for the family, said in a statement.

The family says an Amber Alert, which notifies users about missing and abducted children, abruptly produced an “ear shattering” sound level that ruptured B.G.’s eardrum and damaged his inner ear. As a result, B.G. has permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, suffers from dizziness and needs to wear a hearing aid, according to the lawsuit.

The family said Apple was aware that its AirPods played extremely loud alerts from online complaints going back to 2019 from users who noted that AirPods did not adjust the alert volume to match that of the media they were playing.

Source: Law360 (via Reuters)

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3 comments

  1. Is this really an Apple problem though, or setting on the kid's phone? I turn those fking alerts OFF, they annoy the hell out of me.

    I suspect it would have happened with any headphone. Some lawyer likely talked them into this lawsuit which will go nowhere.
  2. Is this really an Apple problem though, or setting on the kid's phone?
    Hmm idk.

    Alerts tend to ignore most settings and blare at whatever some default setting is. Unless you explicitly turn them off. I can see it being really annoying.

    To the level of permanent hearing loss - that's stretching it... because I'm sure this kid isn't the only one in the history of ever to have an Amber Alert go off while wearing earphones. But I guess you can pay a doctor enough to claim anything - and Apple will probably just throw some money at it to make it go away, and adjust the default amber alert tone down 1 dB to say they did something proactive about it.

    I'm sure Apple ~could~ fight it. They probably have so much data on the phone to show the earphones being used at damaging levels for extended periods of time (it's in the Health app under Hearing, btw, if you want to check it out), but just the press of this will be enough that they won't want to make headlines.

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