iPod User Sues Apple for Hearing Loss

‘Toxic iPods’? Apparently. The owner of an iPod has commenced proceedings against Apple in the United States, claiming that the music device causes hearing loss. The plaintiff’s statement of claim asserts that Apple’s music players are ‘inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss’. The action is presently seeking class action status.

The devices can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, a volume that can damage the hearing of a person exposed to the sound for more than 28 seconds per day, the complaint states.

Although the iPod is more popular than other types of portable music players, its ability to cause noise-induced hearing isn’t any higher, experts said.

‘We have numerous products in the marketplace that have the potential to damage hearing,’ said Deanna Meinke, a professor of audiology at the University of Northern Colorado. ‘The risk is there but the risk lies with the user and where they set the volume.’

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment.

Accompanying each iPod is a prominent warning stating that ‘permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.’ Given that there are many audio products capable of damaging hearing, surely this warning ought to prove sufficient, and in any case give rise to substantial contributory negligence on the part of any plaintiff — though it is unclear whether the plaintiff’s own iPod actually shipped with this warning.