Lawsuit Against Apple Getting 'Huge Volume' Of Inquiries From Upset MacBook Pro Owners


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A proposed class-action lawsuit against Apple over allegedly "defective" keyboards on MacBook Pro and MacBook laptops has prompted inquiries from thousands of individuals, according to one of the attorneys handling the case.

"We've had a huge volume of [customer] intakes since filing the complaint," said Adam Polk, a partner at law firm Girard Gibbs, in an interview with CRN.

[Related: Apple Faces Lawsuit, Petition For Recall Over MacBook Pro Keyboard]

Customers "didn't get the product they paid for," he said. "When you pay for a laptop -- especially if you pay $2,500 -- you expect the keyboard to work."

Apple introduced its retooled MacBook Pro with a new "butterfly" keyboard design in late 2016. The butterfly keyboard first made its debut in the 12-inch MacBook consumer laptop in 2015.

Polk said his firm started looking into the keyboard issue after being contacted by unhappy buyers of the laptops and seeing the traction for a Change.org petition, which has sought a recall of all MacBook Pro laptops made since late 2016.

The butterfly keyboard mechanism aims to provide more responsive and comfortable typing, and also enables a thinner MacBook Pro design, Apple has said. 

However, the keyboard is "defective" and "prone to fail," according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of two MacBook Pro owners in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

When the butterfly keyboard fails, "the keys stick and no longer register keystrokes," the lawsuit reads. "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."

If the debris can't be blown out, the entire keyboard has to be replaced at a typical cost of $700 because the keys are not removable, said Jerry Zigmont, owner of MacWorks, a Madison, Conn.-based Apple consultant.

The lawsuit is necessary because "consumers feel that Apple is not standing behind their product" and is offering "ineffective troubleshooting" for the keyboard issues, Polk said.

"Blowing a little air into the computer is not a permanent fix for the defect," he said. "The petition is seeking a recall, but it does not appear Apple is willing to do that. So we are representing the class in order to retain adequate relief for folks."

The lawsuit asks first for class-action status, and then asks for damages for members of the class including the "return to Plaintiffs and Class members [of] all costs attributable to remedying or replacing defective MacBook laptops."

The suit also seeks to require Apple to "provide adequate disclosure of the defective nature of the MacBooks."

There is no expected timetable for the case, Polk said, though Apple is expected to file a response to the lawsuit within the next several weeks.

Girard Gibbs is providing an online survey to individuals interested in taking part in the potential class-action case, he noted.

Zigmont said he previously used a 2016 MacBook Pro that included the butterfly keyboard, but he later sold the laptop and bought a 2015 version of the MacBook Pro instead.

"Most of my colleagues have done the same, and gone back to the 2015 model," Zigmont said. "There are very few Apple consultants using this newer generation of computers."

Nonetheless, the redesigned MacBook Pro has helped to spur a resurgence in Apple's Mac business since its release, with the Mac having its "best year ever" in fiscal 2017 with $25.85 billion in revenue, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in November.

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