A Louisiana man has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Computer for allegedly putting consumers at risk of suffering noise-induced hearing loss.

A Louisiana man has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Computer for allegedly putting consumers at risk of suffering noise-induced hearing loss.

The complaint, filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. by John Kiel Patterson, alleges that iPods fail to contain adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss. Patterson claims that the iPods and the accompanying "ear bud" earphones are defectively designed.

The suit notes that in 2002, France required Apple to limit personal listening device output to 100dB. In response, Apple pulled its players from store shelves and upgraded the software in European models to limit output to 100dB. It did not change U.S. models, the complaint alleges.

Apple provides a general warning in its user's manual regarding the risk of permanent hearing loss if earphones or headphones are used at high volume. The complaint alleges that the warning is insufficient because it does not advise the listener of what is a high volume or a safe level.

Patterson claims in the complaint that he would not have purchased his iPod priced at that level had he known he would need to buy different earphones to reduce the risk.

Attorneys in the Seattle and Los Angeles offices of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro filed the suit for Patterson.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.

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