A San Antonio family sued Apple, claiming that a known flaw with Airpods caused “significant and permanent” hearing loss for their son.
According to court documents, the suit alleges that an Amber Alert came through the boy’s headphones with enough volume to rip open his eardrum and damage his cochlea.
The boy now allegedly suffers from “tinnitus, significant and permanent hearing loss, other temporary or permanent injuries, pain, suffering, and disabilities leading to the loss of the pleasures of life,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit lists seven causes of action, including fraud by non-disclosure, gross negligence, and emotional distress. The family seeks undisclosed punitive damages and repayment for medical bills they have incurred.
“We are sad, frustrated, and also we are a little angry,” Ariani Reyes, the boy’s mother, said. “He was just a regular, healthy, athletic boy, and his life has changed.”
Users on Reddit and Apple’s support page have made similar claims, prompting the family to believe this is a known defect.
Three years ago, a Reddit user posted, “I just experienced my first case of an emergency weather alert while wearing my AirPods — the alert sound comes through the headphones MUCH louder than I would have guessed the maximum possible volume to be, regardless of what volume level you have them set to.”
Several users at AppleInsider.com have their doubts regarding the family’s claims. They contend that the volume produced would not be loud enough to rupture an eardrum.
One user wrote, in part, “Loud sounds don’t cause eardrums to tear, especially the levels that AirPods can deliver.”
They claimed a sound would have to be similar to a gunshot at close range to cause such damage.
Current iPhone and AirPod users who do not live in areas where the alerts are mandatory can disable Amber Alerts and other government alarms by going to Settings > Notifications > Government Alerts / Amber Alerts.
Though Apple AirPods were first introduced in September of 2016, current models do not support a reduction in volume for Amber Alerts.
The Amber Alert system was introduced in DFW in 1996 to notify people about missing or possibly abducted children.
It is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Arlington girl who was kidnapped and murdered. That incident also led to the creation of the National Sex Offender Registry following the efforts of Texas citizens.
At this time, Apple has not responded to any media organization seeking comment or replied to the lawsuit itself.