Apple hit with class-action lawsuit over 2011 MacBook Pro graphics failures

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 2015
A long-running issue with owners of Apple's 2011 series of MacBook Pros has resulted in a class-action lawsuit, seeking compensation for apparent graphics card failures experienced by customers.


Screenshot of MacBook Pro graphics issue. | Source: Apple Support Communities forum member "Andy_Gee"


The firm of Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP announced on Tuesday that it has filed a class-action complaint in a California federal court against Apple. The lawsuit covers residents of both California and Florida who purchased 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks with AMD graphics.

The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Zachary Book, Donald Cowart, and John Manners. The lawsuit alleges that Apple failed to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket repairs that could cost anywhere from $350 to $600.

Some owners of those devices have vocally complained for years that they have experienced graphical distortions and system crashes. Complaints from out-of-warranty MacBook Pro owners first began to gain steam in early 2013, and one thread in particular on the Apple Support Communities forums has ballooned to over 9,300 replies since then.




People familiar with Apple's internal repair network informed AppleInsider in August that the company had no immediate plans to initiate a replacement program for early-2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models suffering from systematic crashes and graphics failures. The issues are seemingly related to the laptops' discrete AMD-built graphics cards.

The GPU issue might present itself onscreen as visual artifacts, banding or a blank screen. What triggers the failure is unknown, though a common thread seems to be graphics-intensive operations like watching high-definition videos and performing processor-intensive operations in digital media programs.

Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP said Tuesday that the firm is investigating other cases of MacBook Pro failures across the country, beyond California and Florida. It has also created a quick survey for those who have had one or more logic board replacements due to graphical issues with the 2011 notebook lineup.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    After dumping about $650 into new cards for my MBP, all I can say is:

    Finally.
  • Reply 2 of 85
    And it took this long for AMD to work their way back into Apple's supplier chain :)
  • Reply 3 of 85
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    FWIW, not much granted, never have had an issue with mine, Early 2011 MBP....
  • Reply 4 of 85
    While I understand the frustration and even anger of owners of 2011 MBP's experiencing this issue (I've had two owners here at work have their MBP's clunk out for the exact same reason), I don't think this lawsuit against Apple is entirely fair...

    If it were me, I'd be going after AMD which built the damn POS chip that's actually failing... It's likely that Apple hasn't responded to this because they couldn't negotiate amicable terms from AMD (the parts supplier) to shoulder the burden of a recall which, IMHO, Apple shouldn't be on the hook for...
  • Reply 5 of 85

    i always get apple protection. i have a 2011 mbp 17" and it's worked perfectly fine. 

    i have to wonder why 3 people waited till their warranties were up in 2013 to file a class action lawsuit.

     

    if i have even a pixel that is always on, i take it back. this happened with a monitor i purchased in 2010. i got it home and same problem. this happened once more and the third time a manager took the call, told me he would test the monitor himself and send the replacement out the same day. he told me that i could return the faulty monitor once i received the new one. this isn't apple policy. usually, you have to ship the item first and wait for the replacement to arrive.

     

    i suspect there is more to this story than what is presented above.

  • Reply 6 of 85
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Why does Apple let itself get into these situations. They get bad publicity. They have to pay a lot of money to lawyers. And they're end up covering these costs anyway. Why not just create a big pile of money and set it on fire?

    Is Apple going to do the same with iOS 8 and the iPad 3. I got mine, in part, because it supports Bluetooth 4.0, which should let it run Continuity. But iOS 8.1 doesn't even offer that option. Another lawsuit lurking?
  • Reply 7 of 85
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post

     

    if i have even a pixel that is always on, i take it back. this happened with a monitor i purchased in 2010. i got it home and same problem. this happened once more and the third time a manager took the call, told me he would test the monitor himself and send the replacement out the same day. he told me that i could return the faulty monitor once i received the new one. this isn't apple policy. usually, you have to ship the item first and wait for the replacement to arrive.


    Apple's policy is that a single dead or stuck pixel isn't a 'fault'

  • Reply 8 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MagMan1979 View Post



    While I understand the frustration and even anger of owners of 2011 MBP's experiencing this issue (I've had two owners here at work have their MBP's clunk out for the exact same reason), I don't think this lawsuit against Apple is entirely fair...



    If it were me, I'd be going after AMD which built the damn POS chip that's actually failing... It's likely that Apple hasn't responded to this because they couldn't negotiate amicable terms from AMD (the parts supplier) to shoulder the burden of a recall which, IMHO, Apple shouldn't be on the hook for...

     

    I disagree. The Plantiffs are a customer of Apple, not AMD, and it is Apple who is still ultimately responsible if it is found that there is a defect in GPU of the failing MacBooks.

  • Reply 9 of 85
    I haven't had a failure yet on my 17" MBP Early 2011. Knock on wood. This class action won't have a direct effect on me since I don't live in either California or Florida.

    The suit is what needs to happen. Flawed hardware might have been AMD's failure but Apple has responsibility to its customers and AMD has a responsibility to Apple.
  • Reply 10 of 85
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MagMan1979 View Post

    If it were me, I'd be going after AMD which built the damn POS chip that's actually failing... It's likely that Apple hasn't responded to this because they couldn't negotiate amicable terms from AMD (the parts supplier) to shoulder the burden of a recall which, IMHO, Apple shouldn't be on the hook for...

    I'm not sure it is AMD's product that is failing. More likely to be poor motherboard design (heat) or assembly issues (poor solder) which cause the connections to fail.

  • Reply 11 of 85
    inkling wrote: »
    Why does Apple let itself get into these situations. They get bad publicity. They have to pay a lot of money to lawyers. And they're end up covering these costs anyway. Why not just create a big pile of money and set it on fire?

    Is Apple going to do the same with iOS 8 and the iPad 3. I got mine, in part, because it supports Bluetooth 4.0, which should let it run Continuity. But iOS 8.1 doesn't even offer that option. Another lawsuit lurking?

    Their lawyers are likely on retainers anyway. They get paid no matter what happens.


    This is why getting rid of the SuperDrive and spinning hard disks, as well as going to integrated graphics for most models, was a great decision by Apple. Heat is the killer here, as always.
  • Reply 12 of 85
    magman1979 wrote: »
    While I understand the frustration and even anger of owners of 2011 MBP's experiencing this issue (I've had two owners here at work have their MBP's clunk out for the exact same reason), I don't think this lawsuit against Apple is entirely fair...

    If it were me, I'd be going after AMD which built the damn POS chip that's actually failing... It's likely that Apple hasn't responded to this because they couldn't negotiate amicable terms from AMD (the parts supplier) to shoulder the burden of a recall which, IMHO, Apple shouldn't be on the hook for...

    It was Apple who took my money. I don't care that component was sourced from supplier X, Y or Z - I bought a complete Apple computer, not parts to put together myself. Apple can duke it out with AMD all it want. If I sue, I will sue Apple.
  • Reply 13 of 85
    You should all know that this is not an AMD failure. The problem is twofold: One is poor application of thermal paste, which causes overhearing. But the bigger problem was the use of an untested, lead-free solder, that after a couple of years of heating and cooling cycles, dries out, cracks and losses connectivity. Again not an AMD problem. It was a motherboard manufacturing problem.
  • Reply 14 of 85
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,775member
    I hate to fuel this but it isn't limited to 2011 MBPs. That's exactly what my mid 2010 MBP i7 15" screen looked like. Luckily for me Apple replaced my motherboard after a test without a quibble. I was 2 years and 6 months into my extended Apple Care at the time. I telephoned tech support at Apple Care, I did't go to a store and I was sent an app to run and emailed the test results. Apple collected my Mac and returned it good as new. Had I not had Apple Care I shudder to think what would have happened.

    Apple should be gutting the GPU card makers involved over this. Mine was Nvidia.
  • Reply 15 of 85

    Yes there is. The machines started failing en-masse when they were about 3 years old - at the end of Applecare. In many cases there was no prior warning. Mine is currently with Apple for its 3rd logic board. The first failed after 2 years and 11 months, the second only lasted 8 months.

  • Reply 16 of 85
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,775member
    zoffdino wrote: »
    It was Apple who took my money. I don't care that component was sourced from supplier X, Y or Z - I bought a complete Apple computer, not parts to put together myself. Apple can duke it out with AMD all it want. If I sue, I will sue Apple.

    Are you within your extended AppleCare period ? I am assuming you have this issue or were you being rhetorical? I ask because try taking a just about anything back with a problem out of warranty.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    You should all note that this is not an AMD failure. The problem is twofold: First it was poor and sloppy application of thermal paste on the graphic chip, which causes an overheating. Secondly, it was the use of an untested, lead-free solder dries out and cracks after a couple of years of heating and cooling cycles. The chip then loses connectivity with the logic board and fails. The only real solution is GPU reballing. Again it was an apple manufacturing failure not an AMD failure.
  • Reply 18 of 85
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,775member
    scartart wrote: »
    I'm not sure it is AMD's product that is failing. More likely to be poor motherboard design (heat) or assembly issues (poor solder) which cause the connections to fail.

    Having had the issue I can confirm it was the GPU components not the Apple parts causing the exact issue shown in the screen shot in the OP.
  • Reply 19 of 85
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post

     

    i suspect there is more to this story than what is presented above.


     

    Honestly, no, there isn't. It's a systematic problem with the model and thousands of people have been affected by it (there's a lot of evidence showing this) and while I may be only to vouch for myself, it hit me twice within a year.

  • Reply 20 of 85
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MagMan1979 View Post



    While I understand the frustration and even anger of owners of 2011 MBP's experiencing this issue (I've had two owners here at work have their MBP's clunk out for the exact same reason), I don't think this lawsuit against Apple is entirely fair...



    If it were me, I'd be going after AMD which built the damn POS chip that's actually failing... It's likely that Apple hasn't responded to this because they couldn't negotiate amicable terms from AMD (the parts supplier) to shoulder the burden of a recall which, IMHO, Apple shouldn't be on the hook for...

    Imagine if this were a dell or lenovo computer.  The responsibility falls on them even though its a commodity part that failed.  It's up to dell or lenovo to make good with the customer, and its up to dell or lenovo to then deal with their supplier.  That is of course if it is a known issue, which this appears to be.

     

    Another analogy would be where there is a known problem with a vehicle and they have a recall.  The part may be made by nippon-denso or bosch, but you are going to be looking at ford to get it fixed.  

     

    Also I don't know enough about this specific issue but do we know for certain that the graphics chip failure is the problem and not a symptom?  Maybe the real problem is the heat sink, or bad thermal paste for example, both of which could come from different suppliers.

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