Estate of Denial: Here’s a tip for you: Listening to really, really loud sounds over long periods of time can damage your hearing.
Perhaps you already knew that. But a few years back, a group of clever trial lawyers decided they could make some serious money by arguing in court that you are too stupid to know it yourself.
They filed 26 consumer fraud lawsuits in multiple states against Motorola and other manufacturers of Bluetooth headsets. They alleged that consumers were not warned sufficiently about the dangers, and that they “would not have purchased their Bluetooth headsets but for defendants’ false advertising.”
That led to a single class-action case in federal court, in which the plaintiffs sought refunds, restitution and punitive damages. And attorneys’ fees, of course.
The case was pretty light on the merits — in fact, Apple recently got a similar nuisance case thrown out of court over its iPod product line. But millions of people had purchased Bluetooth headsets, and so the potential for liability was high.
And these kinds of nuisance cases often cost a lot of money to defend. Most deep-pocketed defendants would rather spend a million dollars making a case like this one go away than spend millions more in litigation.
For the lawyers, this case was simple: File a lawsuit, then get a settlement agreement — which they did. Under its terms, a hearing loss charity was to get $100,000. The lawyers were to get $800,000. And those who cranked up the volume full blast until they lost their hearing? They would basically get nothing.