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'It has impacted his life': San Antonio family sues Apple, blames company for son's hearing loss

The lawsuit alleges an alert sounded at "dangerous" and "unexpected" volume through the child's AirPods Pro, rupturing his ear drum.

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio family is suing Apple and its AirPods manufacturer, blaming the companies for their son's hearing loss. 

"We don't want anybody to experience this terrible accident," Ariani Reyes, the 14-year-old's mother, told KENS 5. "It shouldn't happen. They haven't fixed that problem with loud noises and alerts." 

During a 2020 road trip, Reyes says her son was watching a video at low volume using a single AirPods Pro earbud. The child's ear drum ruptured when an Amber Alert sounded at an "unexpected" and "dangerous" volume, the lawsuit claims. 

"It was an extremely loud noise and he complained right away," Reyes said.

"He was a different boy... dizzy with nausea."

Reyes says her son became ill that evening and battled vertigo. Doctors treated his inner ear with steroid shots, but could not restore his hearing. 

Two years later, the 14-year-old still wears a hearing aid in his right ear. 

"He's a teenager, so he doesn't like to wear that," Reyes said. "It has impacted his life." 

Family attorneys argue the Apple products are defective and dangerous, since they do not automatically adjust notifications' volume. 

To bolster their case, plaintiffs cite numerous AirPods users who've asked for similar fixes on Apple's community forum. 

"When a notification comes through, I want to rip my AirPods out," one user writes. "It is so loud... Why can't it just be a soft background noise like when I have used other head or ear phones?"

There is a method to reduce notification volume in the phone's settings, but some users complain the process is cumbersome and counter-productive. 

"There is a solution... that will fix the loud alerts," another forum user writes. "But it also means, when you take out the AirPods, you will likely miss phone calls and alerts because the volume of the phone has been turned down in settings. It makes no sense at all."

The lawsuit alleges that Apple should warn users about sudden spikes in volume. 

Attorneys filed the suit in the Northern District of California's federal court. 

"It's something we feel we should do," Reyes said.

Apple did not respond to our request for comment. 

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