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Victoria’s Secret Could Be Liable for Speaker Blast in Store

Oct. 24, 2019, 4:30 PM

Victoria’s Secret will face trial in New Jersey federal court on claims that a loud blast from a speaker at a fashion show led to a man’s hearing loss and tinnitus.

Erik Maran is entitled to an inference that the retailer or its hired disc jockey were negligent in placing or maintaining the speakers at a fashion show held at a New Jersey mall, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey said.

Maran’s otolaryngologist said his hearing loss in a particular frequency range indicates it was caused by a blast, and Maran’s audiologist said the incident caused his tinnitus and sensitivity, the opinion said.

Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC hired Robert Silva to provide music for a December 2014 fashion show shopping event in the Short Hills, N.J., store, the court said.

Large loudspeakers were mounted on stands along the merchandise aisle, with the speakers placed adjacent to the aisles, the court said.

Before the event began, Maran walked in an aisle between a merchandise display table and a speaker two or three feet away. One speaker emitted a sudden loud sound that he said immediately caused pain in his ears.

In the context of an ordinary retail sales event, a loudspeaker “does not ordinarily cause hearing loss without some negligence by those responsible for the equipment’s placement and operation,” the court said.

The court said Maran doesn’t appear to have been negligent.

“Maran did not, like some overenthusiastic rock-concertgoer, trespass or engage in risky behavior that brought him in proximity to the speaker,” the court said.

Silva also faces trial on negligence claims, the court said.

O’Brien Thornton LLC represented Maran. The Law Office of Terkowitz & Hermesmann represented Victoria’s Secret Stores. Golden, Rothschild, Spagnola, Lundell, Levitt & Boylan, P.C. represented Silva and his company, DJ Silva LLC.

Judge Kevin McNulty wrote the opinion.

The case is Maran v. Victoria’s Secret Stores, LLC, 2019 BL 405416, D.N.J., 17-308 (KM) (MAR), docketed 10/23/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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