Apple’s legal team has been busy for the last few weeks. In less than a month, the Cupertino tech firm has fielded no less than four class-action lawsuits. The first three were nearly identical and had to do with the MacBook’s faulty butterfly keyboard mechanism. The latest suit is over defective Apple Watch screens.
On Monday, plaintiff Kenneth Sciacca filed a class action against the company in US District Court in San Jose, California. He claims that all versions of the Apple Watch contain a defect which causes the screens to “crack, shatter, or detach from the body of the watch through no faulty of the wearer.”
The lawsuit claims that the defect often manifests only days or weeks after purchase. Complainants are seeking $5 million in restitution for Apple’s refusal to acknowledge and rectify the problem.
The filing also alleges that Apple was aware of the defect at or before the time it started selling the first generation (Series 0) watches in April of 2015. Consumers began complaining about the screens detaching and breaking shortly after buying the Series 0 devices. The complaints continued with Series 1, 2, and 3, but Apple has refused to address the problem.
“Apple has persistently denied any widespread issue with Series 0 Watches, but in April 2017, Apple acknowledged a swelling battery defect in certain Series 0 Watches and extended its Limited Warranty for qualifying Series 0 Watches from one year to three years.”
The denial continued with the subsequent series of Apple Watches including the latest Series 3 cellular model.
The grounds for class action listed in the filing are as follows:
- Unlawful business acts and practices in Violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200
- Violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750
- Breach of Express Warranty
- Breach of the Implied Warranty of Merchantability
- Violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
- Unjust enrichment
On the one hand, the situation is straight out of Apple’s playbook — deny that there is a problem and blame the customer until we get sued, then admit the problem and offer to fix it for free. On the other hand, Apple has sold approximately 33 million watches since April 2015, and the devices have a 95-percent customer satisfaction score according to BGR. So as Apple has said, this is not a widespread problem with the watch.
However, this does not excuse Apple’s actions in the matter. It would probably have been better off to replace watches with broken screens than to suffer the bad PR that comes with yet another lawsuit.
Images via lawsuit filing