Apple Hit with Class Action Lawsuit Over Butterfly Keyboard Defect

Apple this week was hit with a class-action lawsuit over the highly-publicized Butterfly Keyboard defect, which has been discovered to be affecting a growing number of recent MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

Filed with the U.S. District Court in Northern California, the lawsuit alleges that Apple’s redesigned butterfly switch keyboard (employed on 2015-or-later MacBooks and 2016-or-later MacBook Pro models) is “prone to fail,” which could result in the possibility of “non-responsive keys” and other issues.

According to the official complaint filed by Girard Gibbs LLP on behalf of MacBook Pro owners Zixuan Rao and Kyle Barbaro, “Apple’s butterfly keyboard and MacBook are produced and assembled in such a way that when minimal amounts of dust or debris accumulate under or around a key, keystrokes fail to register.”

“As a result of the defect consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that “thousands of consumers have experienced this defect” so far, cites numerous Apple Support threads related to the issue, as well as a recent Change.org petition seeking to hold Apple accountable for the defect.

Ultimately, the lawsuit alleges, Apple is “aware of” these keyboard issues, either via “pre-release testing,” customer complaints, or a combination thereof, but the company has “failed and continues to fail to disclose” the defect to customers.

“Apple knew that the MacBook is defective at or before the time it began selling the affected models to the public,” the suit reads, adding that “Complaints of keyboard failures began to come in shortly after the 2015 MacBook was launched. Despite awareness of the keyboard defect, Apple equipped future model MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops with the butterfly keyboard, and continued selling these laptops to consumers at premium prices.”

While the suit acknowledges Apple’s provision of an official support document outlining steps to clean a MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard exhibiting signs of “an unresponsive key” or “a key that feels different than the other keys,” the suit is clear to point out that following these steps “do not fix the keyboard defect or prevent the keyboard from failing” in any way.

Among other things, the suit accuses Apple of fraudulent concealment, and for violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. 

Plaintiffs in the suit are demanding a jury trial, seeking punitive damages from Apple in an amount to be determined in court.

The suit is also seeking a public disclosure from Apple on the defect, along with reimbursement of all costs absorbed by customers in their bid to remedy or rectify their defective MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboards.

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