Apple has been hit by a new lawsuit alleging that a loud Amber Alert played through a set of AirPods Pro caused a child to lose hearing in one ear.
The lawsuit, reported by law360 and filed in California federal court on Monday, sues Apple and its AirPods maker for “faulty” design because the headphones do not automatically lower the volume of alerts. He also complains that Apple does not warn users of the danger of hearing loss when using the headphones.
The child, a 12-year-old Texas resident mentioned in the lawsuit only as BG, allegedly suffered serious harm when an Amber Alert went through the AirPods Pro in 2020. He had watched a movie on Netflix and listened to audio through headphones. The alert “ripped open” his eardrum, according to the lawsuit, and damaged his cochlea. Since then he has complained of dizziness, tinnitus and nausea and has to wear a hearing aid.
Amber Alerts are notifications issued in response to child abductions. (The name stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response.”) Some AirPods owners have complained that they’re too loud and turn up the volume no matter what levels users set for their current activity. .
This issue has led some users to disable alerts, which can be done by going to Settings > Notifications and tapping the appropriate toggle at the bottom. This rather defeats the purpose of alerts, of course, but may be better than the alternative.
The lawsuit seeks damages from Apple in an amount that “would punish defendants for their conduct and … deter other technology companies from engaging in such misconduct in the future.”