ADT SUED IN HEARING DAMAGE CASE - IS YOUR SIREN TOO LOUD
Subscriber sued ADT claiming that the ADT burglar alarm activated for no reason and that the sound of the alarm was so loud it caused permanent damage to his hearing. The complaint alleged that ADT was negligent in exposing him to such a loud sound and in failing to warn him of the volume of the alarm, in addition to a products liability cause of action . ADT moved to dismiss the action on the basis that the claim was not brought within one year of the incident which was a requirement in its contract with the subscriber. [The Standard All in One has a 1 year requirement for an action to be brought].
ADT’s contract expressly stated that the subscriber has one year to file any lawsuit it may have against ADT. The contract specifically stated that the one year limitation applied to “any lawsuit,” thus it applied to both breach of contract and products liability claims. This case would have yielded a completely different result if the ADT contract did not include the provision explicitly shortening the amount of time to bring the lawsuit. In breach of contract actions, a person typically has six years to bring the lawsuit and for products liability cases it is two years, so the action would have been timely had this provision not been included in the contract.
Here the Court enforced the one-year contractual limitation of action provision, noting that
"provisions limiting actions on an insurance policy to twelve months have been upheld as valid and enforceable; consequently, actions on a policy that are brought after the expiration of such limitation periods will be barred."
The Court reasoned that the phrase "unless a longer period of time is provided by applicable statute" "cannot be read to incorporate a general statute of limitations for breach of contract actions because it would render the one-year provision a nullity." Basically, the court was saying that it does not matter how much time a person is permitted under the law to bring a lawsuit when the contract expressly imposes a shorter amount of time to bring the suit. ADT had little trouble supporting its position due to the vast amount of case law where courts have enforced contracts provisions limiting the amount of time one has to bring an action. The court ruled for ADT and held that the subscriber was bound by the one year limitation provision.
Hearing loss is a common health problem and I am surprised that there aren't more lawsuits against purveyors of noise. Years ago there was an alarm system designed to emit very loud piercing noise when activated. My memory was refreshed by Stu Gilbert who reminded me that the product was called Tell-Tale manufactured by Milwaukee Resistor Co. A mfg rep was also active in the alarm industry, circa 1980. The system was designed so that the loud noise drove the intruder from the premises. I haven't heard about this type of system in long time and I am curious that there aren't systems out there emitting loud noises and strobe lights designed to render an intruder deaf and disoriented. Maybe the manufacturers are afraid that the dealers will set the system off for non-payment.
Here is a site I found about noise and hearing loss. You'd be surprised how little it takes to cause hearing damage. We've all been to weddings, concerts and other places where the noise is deafening. I've wanted to start a lawsuit several times but calmed down; though I haven't suffered hearing loss yet. Here's the site and there are plenty others: http://www.dangerous decibels.org/education/information-center/noise-induced-hearing-loss/
Thanks to Attorney Jesse Kirschenbaum who brought this case to my attention. He's my nephew and in our Alarm Department handling litigation, mergers and acquisitions and nationwide licensing.