The world's most pointless lawsuit?

Here's the stupidest lawsuit I've heard of in a long time:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A Louisiana man claims in a lawsuit that Apple's iPod music player can cause hearing loss in people who use it.

Apple has sold more than 42 million of the devices since they went on sale in 2001, including 14 million in the fourth quarter last year. 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, according to the complaint.

The iPod players are "inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss," according to the complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, on behalf of John Kiel Patterson, of Louisiana.

The suit, which Patterson wants certified as a class-action, seeks compensation for unspecified damages and upgrades that will make iPods safer. Patterson's suit said he bought an iPod last year, but does not specify whether he suffered hearing loss from the device.

Patterson does not know if the device has damaged his hearing, said his attorney, Steve W. Berman, of Seattle. But that's beside the point of the lawsuit, which takes issue with the potential the iPod has to cause irreparable hearing loss, Berman said.
Here's a clue, Mr. Patterson: Any music device that you listen to through ear buds or head phones can damage your hearing if you listen to it too loud for too long a period of time, not just the iPod. What's the answer? Turn the volume down! Don't listen to it for too long.

What a money-grubbing moron.

But what's really interesting is that the attorney, Steve Berman, has been on retainer for Microsoft:
More recently, Microsoft recognized Mr. Berman's experience and expertise when the company retained him to be part of the core national team representing the company in antitrust class actions arising from Judge Jackson's Findings of Fact in the Department of Justice antitrust case against the company.
Curiouser and curiouser. Coincidence? Who knows? Lawyers frequently represent a lot of different clients. Whether or not there's a rat here, it would appear that Mr. Berman is not above a little legal extortion.


  1. Is is possible to sue the entire legal infrastructure? I think I'll sue the courts for not providing adequate warnings about frivolous cases.

  2. I have to admit - my response to this lawsuit was initially, "Yes, and...?" After all, it isn't exactly news that loud noise (including noise classified as "music") can lead to hearing loss.

    I begin to long for the "good old days" when matters like this were settled by individual combat. That, at least, would eliminate the potential for counter-suits.

    Pistols at dawn?


  3. If the lawsuit's frivolous, it won't last long. I'm sure Apple's quite capable of defending itself in court. Of course, Patterson and Steve Jobs could just square off at 20 paces -- but I'm willing to bet that the Louisiana boy's a better shot.

  4. Hey, skeptico is making fun of you here.

  5. Interesting tidbit of info about the lawyer's M$ connexions. Sometimes, I have to wonder. Remember the guy who went around stenciling iPod ads with the incorrect information that the battery was non-user-replaceable*, and served up a video showing himself doing so? I wonder how much all that bandwidth cost this guy, and who might have footed the bill for it. Astroturfing, anyone?

    *On another page on his site, he admits that he tried to replace the battery himself, and ended up breaking his iPod in the process. Funny--I used the same battery replacement as he did, and my 'Pod works fine, even though I'm not particularly technically adept.


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