Entries in Class Action Lawsuits (3)


Apple Files $53 Million Settlement over Water Damage Policy

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple Inc. has filed a $53 million preliminary class settlement agreement in Santa Clara County Superior Court in California, potentially allowing $200 refunds to iPhone and iPod Touch customers who claim they should be covered under warranties, but were not because of liquid indicators in their devices.

A group of four class representatives were upset over Apple's liquid damage policy prior to Dec. 31, 2009, in which the company would deny coverage under the standard warranty and purchased AppleCare Protection Plan for an iPhone whose headphone jack or dock connector was pink or red, indicating water contact, and for an iPod Touch with the same description before June 30, 2010.

Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users who were covered under a warranty, brought in devices before those dates and were denied repairs or replacements because of a pink or red indicator will be able to go to a website for class members after judicial approval is given.

Jeffrey Fazio, an attorney representing two of the four class representatives, said he expected judicial approval in the next 30 days.

"They're both delighted, as are we," Fazio said of his clients. "We think it's a very good settlement. We think people will get real money and real relief."

Requests for comment to Apple and its attorneys were not returned.

The company has not acknowledged any wrongdoing in the settlement.

The movement to build a class started in April 2010 when Charlene Gallion filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. District Court. She and her attorneys proposed that they represent all purchasers of iPhones and iPod Touches in the country.

Apple's former liquid damage policy was changed around December 2009 for iPhone and June 2010 for the iPod Touch. The company then said that a warranty claim should not be denied based solely on a triggered headphone jack or dock liquid contact indicator.

Fazio said the issue with Apple's former policies was that company employees would allegedly base the decision to repair or replace a device based on the indicator without fully inspecting the device.

"If then they find after inspecting them internally, as we allege they should have done from the beginning, they find water damage, frankly, we don't find anything wrong with it," Fazio said.

Now, company employees first ask customers if a device has been damaged by water, then inspect the device, Fazio said.

So far, Fazio said, there are about 150,000 identifiable people who have made claims.

"They'll remember. I guarantee it," Fazio said of the potential claimants. "People who spend that much on a device and have to buy another one for reasons they don't believe were valid -- they tend to remember."

Depending on the final number of claims, people could receive about $200 from the $53 million settlement. If the fund is not fully utilized by claimants, the remaining funds will go to non-profit groups and consumer organizations, Fazio said.

Public records show that the agreement was filed on Tuesday, after an initial copy of Apple's agreement was leaked by Wired magazine last month.

According to the document, "liquid contact indicator" is the name Apple used from Dec. 22, 2009 to describe a water contact indicator tape it purchased from the 3M Company and installed in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

"They weren't designed to detect damage to an electronic device," Fazio said of the indicators. "What they were designed to do is alert a company that there may be a problem. And if they saw that, opened the device and inspected it and actually found a problem, we wouldn't have filed suit."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman Sues Honda, Mounts Online Campaign Against Class Actions

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TORRANCE, Calif.) -- Small-claims court, by definition, is a small-stakes, usually humdrum venue for tenant-landlord disputes and the like. But combined with social media, it could challenge class-action lawsuits as a way consumers can seek redress from companies for allegedly faulty products.

That's what Heather Peters, 46, a Calif. former corporate defense lawyer, thinks. Her view takes center stage Tuesday afternoon in Torrance Small Claims Court, in Torrance, Calif.

Tuesday's trial will consider Peters' suit against American Honda Motor Company for failing to live up to its advertisements that Honda Civic Hybrid cars would get 50 miles per gallon, according to a statement Peters released. Her 2006 Civic Hybrid got 30 m.p.g., she said. She is seeking damages of $10,000 -- the maximum allowed in Calif. small-claims court -- for the extra money she spent plus the car's lower resale value.

Peters has started an online campaign -- consisting of a website, Twitter account and YouTube channel -- in order to take her suit viral and spark a "small-claims flash mob" of Civic Hybrid owners, her statement said.

Peters' statement said Honda was close to settling five class-action lawsuits alleging the same false advertising. The proposed settlements would give each class member $100 to $200, and the plaintiffs' attorneys would get $8.4 million.

A San Diego judge will consider the proposed settlements on March 16, Peters said, adding an earlier proposed settlement had been rejected as unfair to car owners.

Peters had herself opted out of a class action out of frustration with the proposed payout, especially considering the millions plaintiffs' lawyers would get.

Therefore, if she loses her small-claims case, she would get nothing.

"I'm willing to bet $200 I'll do a lot better!" she said in an interview on her way to the trial. She felt "very confident," she said.

Peters' campaign urges Civic owners in these suits to follow suit, opting out and suing Honda in small-claims court. Given the number of owners of Civic Hybrids -- approximately 200,000 -- and the $10,000 maximum damages, the wave of small-claims suits could cost Honda $2 billion, Peters said.

Honda has tried five times to have Peters' small-claims suit dismissed or the trial postponed until after the date by which class members may opt out of the class action, Peters said.

Honda would not comment on pending litigation, according to several press reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


BlackBerry Outage Prompts Class Actions

Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The fallout continues from the BlackBerry blackout earlier this month.

Class actions have been filed in California and Quebec, seeking refunds for the lack of service during outages that affected more than half of BlackBerry's 70 million users worldwide.

Additionally, gadget buyer Gazelle reports record numbers of BlackBerry customers trading in their devices for the new iPhone 4S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio