Judge dismisses class action suit over 'stage light' MacBook Pro display issue

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 20
Apple was handed a temporary reprieve this week when a federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit targeting reported MacBook Pro display issues dating back to 2018.

Flexgate


U.S. District Judge Edward Davila on Monday handed down a ruling that tossed plaintiffs' claims alleging Apple was aware of a supposed defect in its MacBook Pro line dubbed by media outlets as "stage light" or "flexgate."

In his ruling, Judge Davila concluded that the class failed to argue that the alleged fault posed a safety hazard, reports Law360. The class also did not successfully push claims that Apple knew of and concealed the alleged part failure from customers.

Users first spotted the problem in 2018, when a number of MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2016 and 2017 began to exhibit dark patches across the bottom border of their screens. The effect, which is reminiscent of theater stage lighting, was subsequently dubbed "stage light."

While Apple has not publicly commented on the issue, independent repair firm iFixit in its own investigation said a thin flex cable was to blame for the problem. According to iFixit, the cables that Apple used to connect the display to MacBook Pro's display controller were defective and would deteriorate with regular use. Constant opening and closing of the laptop's display would cause the flex cables to break down, resulting in "stage light" and, in some cases, permanent damage.

The issue impacted 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models. Apple introduced a MacBook Pro with a longer display flex cable in 2018, an apparent attempt to fix the problem.

Apple launched a repair program that covered display concerns on 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro models, but similar programs for 15-inch MacBook Pros and models produced after 2016 were not introduced. Part of the class' demands was an extension of the repair initiative.

Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

The class action was dismissed without prejudice, meaning plaintiffs can amend the complaint to remedy shortcomings specified by Judge Davila.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,199member


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    edited July 20 crowleymattinozdysamoriadarkvader
  • Reply 2 of 18
    This judge needs to be looked into. The issue is 100% on Apple a die a known issue and factory defect. 
    For a judge to dismiss that is incredible. 
    darkvader
  • Reply 3 of 18
    This judge needs to be looked into. The issue is 100% on Apple a die a known issue and factory defect. 
    For a judge to dismiss that is incredible. 
    Well, "The class action was dismissed without prejudice, meaning plaintiffs can amend the complaint to remedy shortcomings specified by Judge Davila."

    That's how it works. A claim with excessive or specious demands can then be modified & resubmitted. Versus "with prejudice," which translates roughly as "Stick a fork in it."
    tommikelecrowleyStrangeDaysdewme
  • Reply 4 of 18
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 475member
    This judge needs to be looked into. The issue is 100% on Apple a die a known issue and factory defect. 
    For a judge to dismiss that is incredible. 
    Those who rant and rave about a judge’s decision without knowledge of the law as applied have some nerve to question the judge's honesty and integrity. Those doing it must take their cues from Trump. It is typical Trump style thinking and speaking.
    StrangeDaysbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 5 of 18
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 475member

    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    If you do not like the terms of the warranty Apple offers, buy something else. There is no concealment of the terms or restrictions. Love people who whine after the fact and feel they are entitled. I’m sure I will take heat for it, but these kinds of comments seem to come from those living in the EU more so than any other region. The democratic socialism tends to lead to this. Whine it isn’t fair and demand the government take charge and get you what you want. Government has a role in protecting us from criminal behavior by corporations. This is not that.

    The plaintiffs and their vulture lawyers (the only ones who will get money) will revile and try again, but will end up with the same result. So far they are unable to prove their claims.

    The odds are the entire thing was dreamed up by a group of class action lawyers who then advertised to get plaintiffs so they could file. These lawyers are no different than patent trolls. 

    If there was a problem in the design Apple should own it and fix the product. The lawyers should drop dead a d not get a penny.
    StrangeDaysget seriousMplsPthtdewme
  • Reply 6 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,176member
    tommikele said:

    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    If you do not like the terms of the warranty Apple offers, buy something else. There is no concealment of the terms or restrictions. Love people who whine after the fact and feel they are entitled. I’m sure I will take heat for it, but these kinds of comments seem to come from those living in the EU more so than any other region. The democratic socialism tends to lead to this.
    Democratic socialism leads to consumer protection laws?  Excellent, sign me up for more of that!
    muthuk_vanalingamp-dogdysamoriadarkvadernadriel
  • Reply 7 of 18
    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    In the USA, as with other countries, there is a “warranty of merchantability” or “implied warranty” that goes beyond anything a manufacturer or professional seller states explicitly in a written warranty. It basically states that goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used. To disclaim the warranty the manufacturer/seller has to state the sales is “As Is”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty
    dysamoriadarkvader
  • Reply 8 of 18
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,274member
    This judge needs to be looked into. The issue is 100% on Apple a die a known issue and factory defect. 
    For a judge to dismiss that is incredible. 
    Those are your claims, not what the class action suit claimed.

    If you had read the article, the suit claimed ........ "In his ruling, Judge Davila concluded that the class failed to argue that the alleged fault posed a safety hazard, reports Law360. The class also did not successfully push claims that Apple knew of and concealed the alleged part failure from customers."

    That is a far cry from what you stated.  

    Apple did not know about the defect or defective part, until the cable failed in great numbers and with most of failures being reported after over a year and half of use. And then Apple offer to repair the defect for free, beyond the warranty period. And I would assume, like other times Apple had done this sort of out of warranty repair, they offer to pay the cost for anyone that repaired the defect, before Apple offer to repair it for free.

    In order to prove what you are claiming, the lawyers would need to have something like an email or statement from a tech to a manager, informing the manager that the flex cable was only going to last about 16 months under normal use and the manager replied to the effect ..... "use it anyway. 16 months is out of warranty and that's longer than we need it to last. Plus this will teach customers to pay the extra cost for Apple Care."  You actually think Apple would do something like that, for a cable that probably didn't cost them more than $2? 


    DetnatorStrangeDaysp-dogget seriousdewmeroundaboutnow
  • Reply 9 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,382member
    Queue the whiners armchair lawyers….experts in all things required of them at a moment’s notice. 
  • Reply 10 of 18
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,274member

    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    That is not even close to what the judge said. What the Judge rule was that Apple was not to blame for the potential  high cost to repair the defective part/design, because the repair was done outside of warranty. Because of Apple design, the whole monitor needed to be replace, to replace the bad $6 cable. 

    But that' is not the same as saying that Apple was not responsible for paying for those repairs cost done outside of warranty. And Apple offered to pay for any repair done outside of warranty and before their program.

    https://support.apple.com/13-inch-macbook-pro-display-backlight-service

    >Additional Information

    This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of your MacBook Pro.

    If you believe your MacBook Pro was affected by this issue, and you paid to have your display repaired, you can contact Apple about a refund.

    The program covers eligible MacBook Pro models for 5 years after the first retail sale of the unit or 3 years from the start date of this program, whichever is longer.<

    edited July 21 get seriousdewmeroundaboutnow
  • Reply 11 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member
    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    In the USA, as with other countries, there is a “warranty of merchantability” or “implied warranty” that goes beyond anything a manufacturer or professional seller states explicitly in a written warranty. It basically states that goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used. To disclaim the warranty the manufacturer/seller has to state the sales is “As Is”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty
    And this is exactly what software licenses have been allowed to disclaim from pretty much the beginning...
  • Reply 12 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member
    Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.”

    Um, isn’t that exactly the POINT of the lawsuit? If the bad design is known, and the failure happens outside the warranty, then the warranty of one year is expressly in the favor of Apple.

    This 1-year warranty nonsense has to end. 3-years should be the absolute minimum. Product-makers need to be incentivized to consider a bare minimum of 3 years of “longevity” for the stuff they sell when they design their products.
    darkvaderelijahg
  • Reply 13 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member
    Also: why was “safety” even mentioned? A product need not have a safety issue to be reason to hold a company responsible for selling known defective products.
    darkvader
  • Reply 14 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,130member
    dysamoria said:
    Also: why was “safety” even mentioned? A product need not have a safety issue to be reason to hold a company responsible for selling known defective products.
    Yeah, I wondered that, too. My guess is that U.S. law imposes different requirements on manufacturers if a defect poses a safety issue so the lawsuit tried to use that as its basis. 

    If that was the case then dismissing the suit seems totally appropriate since it clearly is not a safety issue and the suit would  have no basis under the law they used to file it. 
  • Reply 15 of 18
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 336member
    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL?

    Yes, so long as the conditions are clearly spelled out at the time of purchase.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,130member
    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    In the USA, as with other countries, there is a “warranty of merchantability” or “implied warranty” that goes beyond anything a manufacturer or professional seller states explicitly in a written warranty. It basically states that goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used. To disclaim the warranty the manufacturer/seller has to state the sales is “As Is”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty

    Without reading Apple's warranty, my guess is they have language in it saying there is no other 'express or implied' warranty which would mean the implied warranty you reference does not apply. The other ambiguous part of the 'standard implied warranty' is duration. I'm assuming this is precisely why manufacturers add language to their warranties, so consumers can't come back and argue that an item should be fit for its stated purpose for x years, dramatically increasing the manufacturers' liability.

    Legally, if the defect was showing up after the warranty period, I'm not sure that Apple has any responsibilities. Further more, as @davidw posted, they have a repair program already in place for the affected devices, so I don't know what more the suit expected to gain (beyond fees for the lawyers who filed it.) Seems to me like Apple has already done the right thing both legally and ethically once they uncovered the defect.

    dewmeroundaboutnow
  • Reply 17 of 18
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,274member
    dysamoria said:
    “Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.”

    Um, isn’t that exactly the POINT of the lawsuit? If the bad design is known, and the failure happens outside the warranty, then the warranty of one year is expressly in the favor of Apple.

    This 1-year warranty nonsense has to end. 3-years should be the absolute minimum. Product-makers need to be incentivized to consider a bare minimum of 3 years of “longevity” for the stuff they sell when they design their products.
    No. The lawsuit was filed two years after Apple had already agreed to pay the cost to repair the laptop due to the defective part/design and extending the original warranty for to 5 years to cover the defect. Plus they offered to pay for the cost of repair, for anyone that had their laptop repaired, before the free repair program. 

    https://support.apple.com/13-inch-macbook-pro-display-backlight-service

    The POINT of this class action lawsuit was about extracting money from Apple, by claiming that Apple knew about the defect, before they sold the laptop to customers and that their design subject their customers to potential high fees, to repair the laptop.( Not to mention the defect posed a safety hazard. :o

    Why would it be necessary to sue Apple to cover the cost of out of warranty repair, when Apple had already agreed to do that back in May of 2019? This suit was filed this year. 

    The funny thing is that this is the same Judge that allowed the lawsuit to go ahead in the first place, providing the plaintiffs lawyers could provide enough evidence to their claim(s). But evidently, the plaintiffs  lawyers did not provide the evidence needed to go ahead with their claim(s) or their claim(s) had nothing to do with the defect. So this isn't a case of one Judge seeing things differently, than another Judge. But they can still refile, after coming up with the evidence or filing a claim (that qualify for class action status) that they do have evidence for. 

    https://www.theregister.com/2021/04/05/apple_macbook_screen/
    edited July 21
  • Reply 18 of 18
    MplsP said:
    elijahg said:


    Plaintiffs allege Apple knew of the fault long before launching the repair programs, potentially costing consumers hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Judge Davila, however, found Apple was not culpable for those fees, as the defect presented after the company's standard warranty period.

    What? Apple was not culpable for an apparently widespread issue because it occurred outside the (dismal) one year warranty? Is US consumer law that weak that past an arbitrary manufacturer-defined limit - which could be less than a year, consumers with a broken product are SOL? In England and Wales consumers have up to 6 years to claim for a problem they can prove existed at the time of the product's delivery (dependant on perceived value/quality of the item). The EU provides a 2 year warranty on most items (Apple was sued by Italy for refusing to comply with the 2 year warranty, and they do now comply - though they treat claims under this more as a "favour" than a right as they do in the 1 year one).
    In the USA, as with other countries, there is a “warranty of merchantability” or “implied warranty” that goes beyond anything a manufacturer or professional seller states explicitly in a written warranty. It basically states that goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used. To disclaim the warranty the manufacturer/seller has to state the sales is “As Is”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty

    Without reading Apple's warranty, my guess is they have language in it saying there is no other 'express or implied' warranty which would mean the implied warranty you reference does not apply. The other ambiguous part of the 'standard implied warranty' is duration. I'm assuming this is precisely why manufacturers add language to their warranties, so consumers can't come back and argue that an item should be fit for its stated purpose for x years, dramatically increasing the manufacturers' liability.

    Legally, if the defect was showing up after the warranty period, I'm not sure that Apple has any responsibilities. Further more, as @davidw posted, they have a repair program already in place for the affected devices, so I don't know what more the suit expected to gain (beyond fees for the lawyers who filed it.) Seems to me like Apple has already done the right thing both legally and ethically once they uncovered the defect.

    The “warranty of merchantability” is part of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) adopted by every US state (except maybe Louisiana). The exact language will depend on exactly how it is codified by the state legislature but will generally follow the UCC below. The duration of the warranty will also be determined by state law. Note that to disclaim the warranty that the writing must be conspicuous. Such as a notice when you are purchasing the item like a physical sign or clearly readable text when you are buying through a website. I wouldn't think buried in a lengthy "contract of adhesion" warranty statement would be considered conspicuous and using terms similar to "as is" and "with all faults" is something encountered when purchasing used products in questionable condition and not typically for a brand new product from a manufacturer. 


    https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/2/2-316

    § 2-316. Exclusion or Modification of Warranties.
    (1) Words or conduct relevant to the creation of an express warranty and words or conduct tending to negate or limit warranty shall be construed wherever reasonable as consistent with each other; but subject to the provisions of this Article on parol or extrinsic evidence (Section 2-202) negation or limitation is inoperative to the extent that such construction is unreasonable.

    (2)Subject to subsection (3), to exclude or modify the implied warranty of merchantability or any part of it the language must mention merchantability and in case of a writing must be conspicuous, and to exclude or modify any implied warranty of fitness the exclusion must be by a writing and conspicuous. Language to exclude all implied warranties of fitness is sufficient if it states, for example, that "There are no warranties which extend beyond the description on the face hereof."

    (3)Notwithstanding subsection (2)

    (a) unless the circumstances indicate otherwise, all implied warranties are excluded by expressions like "as is", "with all faults" or other language which in common understanding calls the buyer'sattention to the exclusion of warranties and makes plain that there is no implied warranty; and
    (b) when the buyer before entering into the contract has examined the goodsor the sample or model as fully as he desired or has refused to examine the goods there is no implied warranty with regard to defects which an examination ought in the circumstances to have revealed to him; and
    (c) an implied warranty can also be excluded or modified by course of dealing or course of performance or usage of trade.
    (4) Remedies for breach of warranty can be limited in accordance with the provisions of this Article on liquidation or limitation of damages and on contractual modification of remedy (Sections 2-718 and 2-719).
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