Crystal Care Inventor of Alternative Hearing Device Acquitted By Jury.
TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 9, 2002
The Jury Agrees That The "Assistive Listening Device" Is
Equivalent To Non-Prescription Eyeglasses, Not A Hearing Aid
A Hillsborough County Florida jury reached not guilty verdicts in less than a half hour for Michael Nehr, President of Crystal Care International. Mr. Nehr was accused of Organized Fraud and Misrepresenting a Medical Device for selling his Crystal Ear assistive listening device over the counter in Eckerd pharmacies. The charges carried a maximum 30-year prison sentence.
Brought by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, the State alleged that the Crystal Ear was actually a hearing aid subject to regulation and prescription. Taking the stand in his own defense, Michael Nehr stood by his invention - maintaining throughout that his product was the equivalent of non-prescription eyeglasses, which have been sold for years over the counter.
Mr. Nehr's attorney Paul Sisco of Jung and Sisco in Tampa, Florida said the charges were meritless and should never have been filed. "Here's a man with over 30 years experience in the hearing industry who invented an affordable option to a standard hearing aid. He believed in his invention and he always proceeded in good faith."
Selling for under $300 the Crystal Ear is approximately one-fifth the retail cost of a hearing aid. With an estimated 30 million Americans suffering from some sort of measurable hearing loss, the product was designed as an affordable solution to the working public. "Many people buy these things who simply couldn't afford $1,500 an ear," Sisco said.
Unlike a hearing aid, the Crystal Ear is "one size fits most" device with basic circuitry that generically amplifies sound rather than compensating for a user's specific hearing loss.
Sisco noted that the Florida Department of Revenue has always levied sales tax on the Crystal Ear, calling it a non-prescriptive, assistive listening device akin to a consumer electronics product. Hearing aids are exempt from Florida's sales tax because they are defined to be medical devices. "So you have one state agency saying it's a non-medical device and another state agency filing charges against my client for misrepresentation for calling it a non-medical device," Sisco said. "That doesn't make much sense."
The trial included experts from both sides of the debate. Crystal Ear user, Marsha Warren, testified at trial that she has used the product for years and attested to the fact that it is every bit as effective as the much more expensive actual hearing aid.
"We have helped many thousands of people," states Mr. Nehr, "wth this behind us we can now move forward and bring more affordable hearing help to everyone who needs it."
For more information contact: In writing, Crystal Care International, Inc. P.O. Box 46188 Tampa, FL 33647-0102