A judge has certified a class action lawsuit against Apple for its fragile butterfly keyboard design. The suit covers anyone who has purchased an Apple MacBook with a butterfly keyboard in seven states: California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington and Michigan. This includes people who bought a MacBook model from 2015 to 2017, a MacBook Pro model between 2016 and 2019 or a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019.
Judge Edward Davila certified the case with seven subclasses on March 8 in California, but the order remained sealed until the end of last week. It lifts the stakes for a suit that was filed only in 201
The Butterfly keyboard was slimmer than Apple’s previous design, which used industry-standard scissor switches. But many disgruntled MacBook users found that Apple’s refurbished keyboard failed when even small dust particles accumulated around the switches. This resulted in keys that felt “sticky”, that did not register keystrokes or registered multiple presses with one hit. Apple adjusted the butterfly keyboard several times, but after continued complaints, it left the switches in 2020.
This suit claims Apple knew for years that the butterfly switches were defective – and that the incremental changes did not solve the main problem. It cites internal communications in Apple, including a leader who wrote that “no matter how much lipstick you try to put on this pig [referring to the butterfly keyboard] . . . it’s still ugly. ”
The plaintiffs accuse Apple of violating several laws in the seven states mentioned above, including California’s unfair competition law, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. They are not asking for a nationwide certification at this time, but the law firm behind the suit has invited all U.S. buyers of an affected MacBook to complete an investigation.
Apple argued against class action certification, saying that a consolidated suit should not cover further adjustments to the butterfly’s keyboard. However, the plaintiffs successfully argued that all butterfly keyboards may have the same basic problems due to their shallow design and narrow spaces between the keys. “None of the design differences that Apple points to changed the narrow spaces between the keys, nor the aspect of low travel,” the order states. Apple later had to argue that these basic features did not actually make the design unreliable – and that it did not take many years to deliberately make defective keyboards.