iPod Owner Sues Apple For Potential Hearing Loss

from the oh,-come-on dept

Ah, the fun of living in a litigious society. We recently noted that people were, again, talking up the idea that iPods can cause hearing loss, thanks to a random statement from Pete Townsend — even though this idea had been discussed quite a while ago. However, when complaints like that come out, you know it’s only a matter of time before the lawyers show up. Apple is now being sued by the owner of an iPod over the hearing loss claims. It seems likely that this lawsuit is trying to cash in on the story, and has every likelihood of getting thrown out of court. Most importantly, the guy in question does not appear to have any actual hearing loss. He’s just complaining about the “likelihood” of hearing loss. It doesn’t take an expert to note that the problem isn’t with the iPod, but with the user for turning up the volume too loud (though, the article does quote an expert saying exactly that). Finally, Apple includes a warning with each iPod that says: “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.” Still, the guy claims that iPods have an “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss.” To support his claim, he points to marketing material and product info from Apple that include the phrases: “crank up the tunes” and “bring in the noise.” Seems like quite a stretch no matter what — and its likely that any judge will see through the claim pretty quickly.

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Comments on “iPod Owner Sues Apple For Potential Hearing Loss”

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anon says:

Screw 'em

If they don’t know that loud things cause hearing loss, then they deserve to be deaf. If they know, and subject themselves to it knowingly and willingly (i.e. ipod cranked up too loud, not wearing earplugs on loud jobs, ect), then it’s your own fault.
Personal responsibility is a bitch. I swear if I ever put out a product, I’m going to put a lable that says “If you or your parents are litigation happy morons, do not purchase this product.”

Cody H (user link) says:

Re: Screw 'em

Its obvious in this country that people are too stupid to take responsibility for their own actions. If your afraid of hearing loss, dont buy an ipod, or any other device that has headphones, earphones, or speakers for that matter. In fact, why don’t you sue Major cities for the street noise being to loud. GROW UP AND QUIT BEING AN IDIOT! TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU DO AS A PERSON and quit going after companies with deep pockets cause your a mentally underdeveoped jackass that can’t figure out how to use a volume control!

The-Kid says:

Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

WOW Some People now are trying to sue as much as they can. This is similar to the McDonald’s case. This person sues McD because his/her coffee is way too hot and got burned. This lawsuit will never win. The only other thing for Apple to do basiclly incorporate this program that automaticly lowers the music if the Genre is under Rock, or Punk, etc… into the ipod. Or whenever ipod starts it says “Apple will not be responsible for any hearing problems that might cause deaf.” LOL!


Re: Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

the lady got burned because she put the coffee in her crotch as she drove away from the drive through…and yes won because our society is geared so the ppl are not responsible for their actions. Its never their fault..its always someone elses fault. This world sucks!!! It needs a meteor impact badly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

in the mcdonalds case they actually were heating the coffee to about 190 degrees farenheit and the woman had 3rd degree burns. mcdonalds was only supposed to heat it to about 135 degrees.

this ipod case, on the other hand, seems to be just some leech that wants to make a quick buck

anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

There are still differing opinions about the McDonald’s case, and people will never agree on how it should have turned out.

The truth is that the coffee was brewed too hot (a truth people against the lawsuit forget many times). The other truth is that you should take precautions against spilling hot liquid on yourself while driving. A third truth (that many people that were for the woman and against McDonald’s ignore many times) is that some people commute, and like their coffee hot so that it stays that way instead of cooling to a muddy sludge before they get where they are going.

The difference here is that the woman against McDonald’s had a case (no matter how much I disagree with it), and the man suing Apple is only in it for the money, PERIOD. He has not suffered damage, and if he’ll quit using the thing he never will suffer damage. I don’t want my iPod (assuming I ever buy one…I’m always the last to get gadgets, that way I know if I really want it or if it was just the idea of it that I liked) having a severely limited output, or end up costing more than they cost now for comperable sizes because this guy wants to sue for something that might occur if he’s a moron.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald’s case
by Michal on Wednesday February 01, @09:23
yeah because coffee brewed at 135 is sooooo much better.

Actually there is a big differnce between 195 and 135. At 135 it would burn but most likely only 2nd degree at worst versus 195 you will get 3rd degree burn almost instantly. Of Course this applies to clothed body parts so don’t try and prove me wrong by sticking an ungloved hand in 135 degree coffee. I still think suing over it should have happened but it did and nothing we can do about it now.

nick Brogna says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald’s case
by Michal on Wednesday February 01, @09:23
yeah because coffee brewed at 135 is sooooo much better.

The problem was that McDonalds was violating health code by *overheating* their coffee. By doing so, the coffee would stay hot longer, thereby allowing them to make less batches throughout the day, thereby saving them money. It has absolutely nothing to do with tase (McDonald’s really isn’t known for their gourmet cuisine – It’s fast, cheap shit for fat, lazy sheeple).

So in effect, McDonalds’ violation of consumer safety laws that ended up with a woman being badly burned so they’d save $.62 a day or whatever is what lead to the lawsuit, not “HURR DUM ASS SPILLT COFEE HURR” like many of you seem to believe. I hate how that’s often misrepresented to make a point about stupid lawsuits – in this instance it was perfectly valid. Scalding, yeah… but you should never get *third-fucking-degree* burns from coffee.

Jack Sombra says:

Re: Lame same thing as the McDonald's case

It’s totally different from the McDonald’s case.

If you want to learn something about the case beyond “This person sues McD because his/her coffee is way too hot and got burned” have a look at http://www.centerjd.org/free/mythbusters-free/MB_mcdonalds.htm but if you are feeling lazy here is probably the most important part, that probably cost them the case

“McDonald’s admitted that its coffee is ?not fit for consumption? when sold because it causes severe scalds if spilled or drunk;”

Eeeeeeli says:

Re: Re: This is Spinal Tap

Hey anybody remember in This is Spinal Tap when they were showing off their amps? He goes on to explain about the volume knob…You see most go to 10 but ours go to 11! Rock on you dolts!

Ever hear of personal responsibility? The other side of this is that if I turn up my earbuds to the level that could damage my hearing they get distorted and that really doesn’t sound too good. Maybe Apple should counter-sue for bad judgement on the part of the moron with nothing better to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: sauce for the gander

“Other IPod users (Current AND future) should bring a class action against that guy for raising the prices of their ipods and for potentially causing IPods to sacrifise sound quality.”

You dont have to worry about sound quality ipods are already about as bad sound processing as you can get. overpriced and terrible sound, but wonderful interface.

icepick314 says:

Stupid Americans

I love this living in this country but I HATE the people living in this country.

This is exactly why there are fewer and fewer innovations that change our lives for the better because of these frivolous lawsuits.

Next thing you know, people are going to sue automakers for causing them lung cancers from the exhaust or even TV makers for causing them blindness from watching it too much.

Why single-out Apple? Money. iPods may cause hearing loss? What’s next? Suing your genetics for making you old?

giafly says:

Re: Talk loudly while listening

Singing along with the music would prevent deafness too. I just realized! That’s why Pete Townsend doesn’t blame his loud stage performances for his deafness (previous techdirt article) because he was singing all the time, unlike in the studio when he would have been listening more often than singing.

So when some tuneless moron sits next to you and sings along with their iPod, don’t hit them, they’re only trying to protect their hearing.

Pseudocyber says:

Chances are good for my lawsuit ...

Hmm. I think I have pretty good chances of suing all manufacturers of forks …

There’s a potential of me poking my eye out if I bring the fork too quickly towards my face and miss my mouth.

And I’ve been exposed to this potential, for about 30 years, so that’s a lot of back compensation for living with this potential.

And I’ve NEVER seen a warning on the packagaing, the forks themselves, or the food …


Jimmy Bear Pearson (user link) says:

Not a reasonable lawsuit

When I’m not my mild-mannered software engineer self, I write and record music. I could be deaf and sue myself for writing music, or could sue amp manufacturers or headphone manufacturers. Or, I could just use that funny little volume control that comes on every electronic music device known to humankind.
Honestly, this type of lawsuit doesn’t help anyone or anything.
P.S. When I use my iPod, I use moderate volume and open-back lightweight headphones.

Stephen Tillman (profile) says:

Simple Solution

I’ve had a solution to this kind of thing in mind for quite some time now: Remove all warning labels and let the problem fix itself.

If you can’t figure out that you shouldn’t stop a chainsaw blade “with your hands or genitals” (no, I?m not making this up), they you don’t deserve to live. You have zero potential to enhance the species with your presence here, so buh bye.

If you can’t figure out that you shouldn?t blow-dry your hair while sitting in the tub… you deserve to get lit up like a xmas tree.

Why do we cater to the lowest common denominator? Where did we get this “everyone should be treated equally” crap? We were founded under the idea that everyone has equal opportunity. If you choose to asshat out and screw up your potential and opportunity through stupidity, it’s not society’s responsibility to cater to you.

Yes, everyone screws up. Yes, it’s nice when your fellow man (or woman) helps you back up and helps you dust off. But it should not be legally fu**ing required for everyone to protect you from yourself. It’s evolution baby. Let’s stop making the gene pool more hospitable to algae.

Lee says:

ipod involved in train death

A pedestrian was killed last night crossing the train tracks in Ramsey, NJ. The victim got out of his train and was said to be wearing an ipod. As he crossed the tracks an express heading in the other direction hit and killed him. Details are still a little sketchy but I believe this is pretty much the story. I came upon the scene about 20 minutes after the accident. It was just a matter of time until something like this happened.

Grace says:

Re: ipod involved in train death

The express train that killed the passenger was headed in the same direction as the train he just came off of. It is common for passengers to cross in front of the train while it is stopped. You look north if you came off a northbound train to see if there is one coming the opposite direction. Passengers don’t think to look back to the south. A tragedy, yes because we live such hectic lives that we can’t wait the one minute it would take to let the train pass by. This is not the first time a passenger has been hit in this station.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Suing for likelyhood?

I keep a gun in my home.

I’ve been told that having a gun in my home increases the likelyhood of being shot myself.

Can I sue the gun manufacturers because of the likelyhood that I’ll be shot?

How much do you suppose that’s worth?

I bet this guy is the same idiot who heard that most accidents occur within 5 miles of home – so he moved…

Anonymous Coward says:

Take responsibility for your own actions!

Take responsibility for your own actions. Why is this person suing for the potential. His iPod has a volume control. He could turn it down. I bet his car has the potential to hurt him if he neglects to use the steering wheel. I bet the stereo in his car is capable of injuring his hearing. Is he also suing GM or Ford or whoever?

Roudrix (profile) says:

There is another problem. Some of us just want to turn the volume the lowest possible and it is still too loud! The maximum volume is locked up at the minimum possible with audible sound. Sometimes it’s not easy to calculate the sound that we get with a specific headphone / earphones / IEMs etc. Then, I find that Apple should allow us to set the volume even lower than their defaults on their iPod. An application mainly made for PDFs called GoodReader allows to listen at even lower volume. It’s not even its main function! The test has been done on an iPod Touch 2G. Some people don’t understand the technical stuff about the earphones like impedence, decibels, etc. So, both sides should put clear information about watts, decibels outputs and methods to help us calculate between popular devices such as an iPod and IEMs. Don’t expect everyone of us to be able to do this. So, should they completly drop any such devices because they can’t put it even lower? On another website, a person has talked about an IEM made by Nuforce, the NE-7M. This is why I’ve mentioned the program called GoodReader. I find it’s a shame that a program mainly made to read PDFs can allow us to listen at a lower volume than the application provided by Apple.

Guess what? The person found the volume too loud even if the volume was set to its minimum and the volume was locked to the minimum audible level with this IEM. And that only works with a limited number of applications. The other applications will not be limited like that and you may hear a very loud sound.

Apparently, the person cares about his or her hearing and ended up with some hearing loss and tinnitus. Some people care about their hearing and want to be able to set it at the right volume level. It’s pathetic too that a person may know only iTunes to adjust the gain volume and it still doesn’t work. You may want to use programs such as MP3Gain and in some cases, it might not be appropriate for you. I must note that the person listened to isochronic tones that last about 30 minutes.

So, if you want things that don’t work, even though your volume is at its lowest, find an app to do it right or just throw the damn iPod in the trash and then don’t lose your hearing. I find this funny for the people who have a correct hearing to crank it up with their headphones that give a good sound level with less than the half of the volume control and do it on purpose.

These ones should not even have the right to sue them as it has been abused on purpose. Still, it might be only them who know that they’ve done it on purpose.

So question yourself as much as possible about the implications it might have. Be lucid, alert, careful and write your questions and answers on a notepad near you before you even try once any device you’ve never used before and even if you have the logic or an idea of how it works… What will happen if I do this? What are the consequences of doing that? Do I make the right choice? If you feel just a little doubt, in this case, remove your earphones before adjusting volume. If possible, make fundamental rules before wearing earphones such as keeping the volume at 0, lock it, wear only earphones when there is music, etc. Little things can make a big difference on the outcome. Use common sense if you don’t intend to follow this as a systematic rule. In other words, find a system that will be reliable for you before to minimize accidents and issues. I know it can be hard but that will be more and more needed as the technology evolves, even if the technology might become very intelligent to do such tasks for you… Do that before you use things.

I think these security measures should be taught early at a young age and use processes such as affirmations, hypnosis, subliminals, isochronic tones, repetitions so the people will automatically check everything without forgetting. Pay attention to some of them, especially subliminals. If you have hearing loss at their frequency, it might not work for you and if you don’t set the right volume and use headphones, it might cause hearing loss as well. In doubt if you have to use speakers and not headphones or any other thing, please contact the vendor and / or the experts at these things. Habits made without these techniques can also work, provided that you don’t forget to do them and don’t lose the habit on the go.

Hearing loss and tinnitus is not enjoyable at all if you ask me. There’s no cure yet for noise induced hearing loss in the USA… You have to go in other countries that has such treatments or cure and it’s at your own risk. Otherwise, please be careful. I do that in the name of humanity, please be careful. If it’s too late, please spread the word to others and it will be needed. If you have children, you might want to teach them to check and stay vigilant toward devices, toys as much as it is in the kitchen, for example. Don’t make them afraid of everything neither. They have to stay confident but learn to use common sense and have good intuition and a good check system.

Some might be depressed about their hearing loss… not only because they cannot hear well, because it has been their own fault and they’ve realized what they have done. They know they can’t reverse their hearing loss at all and have to wait for a cure if they can’t find one, especially if their country doesn’t have anything available beside hearing aids or cochlear implants. That’s why I’ve talked about the hypnosis, subliminals, etc. For those who have it, even if it was not caused by their iPods but by noise, I want you to stay strong and just spread the word. Make groups if you want.

It’s not only about responsibility, it’s also by a lack of awareness. I agree that it takes responsibility to find a solution to minimize or kill the lack of awareness. So, try my suggestions above. I put the emphasis especially to the kids who might lose their hearing at a faster rate than it should be. I don’t say that other age groups should not be cautious about this. The reason is because the kids are the ones who will have to take the flag, someday.

Some want to be responsible and can still run into problems like hearing loss. It’s not the end of the world nor your life if you have hearing loss. You can still live even if you are a musician… You can be the one who make great music while being deaf for example and improve your skills at making sound without hearing anything. I know you may be disappointed because I know there are people with awesome skills and stop making music or end up suiciding themselves, unfortunately. For some, the reason might be because it’s their own fault that they’ve inflicted themselves and because it’s usually not reversible without some therapy that might work such as stem cells therapy and they would not accept their mistake. For some of them, it might be their biggest mistake ever in their life. I also know that it may have an impact on the quality of your songs, compositions, or even your creativity.

The fact is, you can still become popular and have an enjoyable life. I want you to use this status to spread the word as well and that way it might prevent life. We have powerful tools today, they can be as good as it can as bad. It depends on how we use it. Then why don’t we tune them boost even more the preventive measures? It’s better than nothing at all.

True, I’ve said above that hearing loss and tinnitus is not enjoyable. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your life. However, it will be different. I respect your opinion if your hearing is invaluable to you. I agree with this, I find my hearing invaluable too.

Hey, if an official cure is accepted a day and people might use it to correct their hearing loss, use the system I’ve used above first and do your research well before making any decisions. It might be expensive, might not work or not work the way as it should. Some of you might be at a later stage of their life and would like to enjoy their hearing before they run into bigger problems or die. If everything is okay, go ahead, it’s your choice at the end. However, you must keep the same habits about anything and in this case, about the volume, the problems, the oddities and of course, your hearing status.

I know that this is a long post and that’s to cover enough points and make a difference in this ever growing kind of problem. It also makes me feel better by doing this. I suggest you do that too even if it’s redundant :). The future generations will probably have to be skilled in these kind of choices and of course, they have to be skilled at making choices, maybe even more than right now. Think about it and you can tell me if that makes sense or not. Thank you for reading.

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