Court decides if skiing with your iPod causes hearing loss

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 31, 2009 8:43 am

While some of us prefer only the sound of whooshing air and wind in our ears while skiing or snowboarding, several mountain athletes don’t ever go down the mountain without their iPod plugged in and ready to go. Skiing without “Come Sail Away”? I don’t think so.

Well, back in 2006, John Kiel Patterson and Joseph Birdsong of Louisiana, along with Bruce Waggoner of California, sued Apple. They claimed the iPod is defective because it harms our hearing. They claimed an iPod can produce sound levels up to 115 decibels, which is dangerous, according to the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health: “Studies indicate that exposure to 115 dB for more than 28 seconds per day, over time, can cause permanent damage.”

In 2008, the court rejected the case, saying the plaintiffs did not have sufficient evidence to prove an iPod’s deficiency. They also couldn’t prove that they had any hearing damage themselves. Rather, the only thing they might prove is that an iPod could be used in such a way as to damage a person’s ability to hear and that Apple has not provided a whole lot of warning about that.

The plaintiffs appealed, and yesterday the US Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower-court ruling. “At most, the plaintiffs plead a potential risk of hearing loss not to themselves, but to other unidentified iPod users,” Senior Judge David Thompson wrote on the appeal court’s 3-0 decision to uphold the lower court’s ruling. The court ruled it’s the user’s responsibility to protect their hearing, not Apple’s.

So, if you can’t imagine skiing or snowboarding without blasting your Muse or your Kings of Leon…go right ahead–just don’t blame anyone but yourself when you can’t hear the DJ at the apres party…