Steve Berman sues Apple over iPods

Specifically, Seattle attorney Steve Berman (Nov. 24, 2003 and links therein), on behalf of a Louisiana man, accuses Apple of selling a “defective” product because it can cause hearing loss if one turns up music to maximum volume using headphones. The lawsuit, filed in San Jose, seeks class action status, even though each member of the putative class will come to the table with different pre-existing knowledge about audio safety and different usage patterns for their device. (Many iPod users don’t use headphones at all.) Each iPod comes with a warning that “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume,” but, of course, the lawsuit alleges that the warning is insufficient. The plaintiff, John Kiel Patterson, doesn’t even claim that his hearing has been damaged, thus making it a typical “Harm-Less Lawsuit.” (Dan Goodin, AP/Yahoo, Feb. 1, h/t W.F.)

Update: a pdf copy of the complaint.


  • Microsoft conspiracy theorists, at least, may be interested in one of attorney Berman’s other connections: he’s crossed the plaintiffs-vs.-defense aisle to represent MS and is even reported to have become friends with Bill Gates. See our post of Feb. 28, 2000.

  • If they pull this off can I sue those idiots that turn their damn car stereos so loud they drown out everyone else’s for 2 miles around?

  • Good idea Dave!

  • Turn Up the (Class Action) Volume

    It is a basic premise of tort law that a plaintiff, in order to win a judgment against a defendant, must prove damages — some form of measurable and compensable harm.

  • No, but you can sue the carmakers for not including enough soundproofing, the makers of car stereos for allowing them to be turned up that high, and the makers of the speakers for making speakers that can pump out so much noise.
    You might even be able to sue the resellers of all the above, and the shops that install car stereos for knowingly and willingly installing devices that can produce loud noises.

  • […] covered other ridiculous failure-to-warn-of-hearing-loss consumer-fraud lawsuits, but somehow missed this one filed by the Garcia Law Firm, which was eventually consolidated with […]