Apple offers a range of products and gadgets to meet different needs, whether you use an iPhone as your primary form of communication or rely on your MacBook for work. In fact, so many people take advantage of Apple products, the tech giant became the first company to be valued at $3 trillion in Jan. 2022, The New York Times reported. This growth is thanks in large part to its devout customer base, with many people clamoring for the latest and greatest Apple devices the moment they are rolled out. But even the most popular products have their detractors, and the company is now facing criticism in the form of a new lawsuit. Read on to find out what Apple product allegedly caused “significant damage.”
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Apple fans share rumors about upcoming product releases before they’re officially announced, and proudly line up to get their hands on the first ones as soon as they do hit stores. That doesn’t mean that these popular purchases don’t get negative feedback. Recently, Apple found itself in hot water over Apple AirTags, tracking devices that can help locate misplaced items. Despite their intended use, these products were linked to a total of 150 police reports, according to Vice. A majority of cases dealt with stalking, suggesting a major safety risk for users.
Now, another seemingly harmless Apple product is the source of a safety debate, with two parents in Texas taking action.
A couple from San Antonio, Texas, filed a lawsuit against Apple on May 16, alleging that thanks to Apple AirPods, their 12-year-old son has “permanent hearing loss” in his right ear. As reported by Insider, the couple is seeking over $75,000 in damages.
Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes claim their child—now 14 years old and identified as B.G. in court documents—was watching Netflix on his iPhone and listening “at a low volume” through his AirPods in May 2020. While the wireless headphones were connected, an Amber Alert came through, the lawsuit says, which “went off suddenly, and without warning, at a volume that tore apart B.G.’s ear drum, damaged his cochlea, and cause significant injuries to B.G.’s hearing.”
B.G. now suffers from “bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea” due to the trauma, the lawsuit alleges. The issue is so severe, the suit says, that the child will have to wear a hearing aid for the remainder of his life.
“B.G. has lost his ability to live a normal life, and he will continue to live a diminished life into the future, including a diminished ear capacity,” the suit states. Medical bills were also noted as a concern for the family, as B.G.’s issues persist and will require additional medical care and follow-up.
The lawsuit dubs the AirPods “defective,” putting users’ hearing at risk. According to Tej Paranjpe, attorney and cofounder at PMR Law, Apple also failed to provide sufficient warnings about AirPod volume.
“Had Apple designed the AirPods to self-adjust to safe levels or provided warnings about the volume increases associated with alerts, this boy would be living a normal life,” Paranjpe said in a press release.
Per the release, Gordoa and Reyes are suing for both negligence and fraud, alleging that Apple did not properly test or manufacture the AirPods, and also failed to inform users about the “rapid and unexpected” volume increases when using the earbuds.
“We hope this lawsuit will lead to positive changes for consumers wearing the Apple AirPods,” Robert Horn, PMR Law attorney, said in the press release. “If we can prevent this from happening to another family, then that is a step in the right direction.”
The lawsuit points to previous complaints from Apple customers about notifications, with users calling for a way to adjust the volume of notifications. Users have flooded Apple forums to discuss the issue, with one respondent writing in 2020 that “AirPods notifications are extremely loud, while other sounds are not.”
The lawsuit alleges that Apple was aware of the “design, manufacturing, or marketing defects affecting the AirPods” in light of these complaints, which have been filed both before and after B.G.’s incident.
On the iPhone, Apple does offer a Headphone Safety feature, which aims to protect you from hearing damage. You can access this by heading to Settings, then Sounds & Haptics, then Headphone Safety. Once there, you can toggle on the Reduce Loud Sounds. This will, however, automatically reduce the volume if it has been too high for extended periods of time, according to Gadget Audio.
Apple did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the ongoing lawsuit, nor the issues surrounding AirPod notification volume.
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