Apple sued after loud Amber Alert on AirPods said to damage Texas boy's hearing

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Logo of an Apple store is seen as Apple Inc., Washington, U.S., January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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  • Lawsuit says 12-year-old suffered ruptured eardrum from alert
  • Family says wireless earbuds defectively designed, claim fraud, negligence

(Reuters) - Apple Inc has been sued by the family of a Texas child who allegedly suffered permanent hearing loss from an Amber Alert on the company's AirPod wireless earbuds.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in San Jose, California, federal court, parents Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes and their son, identified as B.G., said the AirPods were defective because they play alerts at dangerous volume, regardless of the volume set by the user. They accused the company of gross negligence and fraud.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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According to the lawsuit, the injury happened in May 2020, while B.G., then 12, was watching Netflix on his iPhone while wearing an AirPod connected to the phone in his right ear.

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.

"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," Tej Paranjpe of PMR Law, a lawyer for the family, said in a statement.

The case is Gordoa v. Apple Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 3:22-cv-02900.

For the plaintiffs: Tej Paranjpe of PMR Law; and Richard Collins of Callahan & Blaine

For Apple: not available

Read more:

Apple wins appeal over alleged iPod hearing loss

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Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.