Judge Allows Federal Class-Action Lawsuit Accusing Apple of Using Refurbished Replacements in AppleCare Coverage
SAN JOSE, Calif. – U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick today issued an order certifying a class of consumers against Apple in a class-action lawsuit accusing the tech company of issuing refurbished replacement products to consumers under its AppleCare and AppleCare+ protection plans, despite promises of “new or equivalent to new” replacements, according to Hagens Berman.
As cited in the judge’s order, Apple’s records show it sold more than 3 million AppleCare and AppleCare+ service plans, where it provided at least one replacement device, many of which were remanufactured.
The lawsuit, filed July 20, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeks compensation for iPhone, iPad or iPod owners who bought AppleCare or AppleCare+ coverage. The suit accuses Apple of using inferior, refurbished or used parts in device replacements, despite promising to provide consumers with a device “equivalent to new in performance and reliability.” Attorneys say this violates Apple’s own contracts and consumer laws, and illegally charges customers premium prices.
“Judge Orrick has given a thorough and thoughtful review of our claims, and we are grateful to the court for allowing this consumer case against Apple to continue," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney leading the suit. “We look forward to proving our claims that Apple has been breaking its own established contracts with its AppleCare and AppleCare+ customers.”
In the order issued Sept. 17, 2019, Judge Orrick also denied Apple’s motion for summary judgment. His order states, “Apple also challenges the evidence plaintiffs rely on to prove their theory: plaintiffs’ interpretation of the contract is ‘unrealistic and unsupportable’ because the expert opinion of Michael Pecht—that any device with a non-new component cannot be equivalent to new—‘reads ‘equivalent to new’ out of the AC+ contract.’ …I disagree. Pecht’s report sets forth reasons why remanufactured devices do not meet that mark; it does not read “equivalent to new” out of the contract. Apple’s performance must match its promise, and a reasonable fact finder could rely on this evidence to conclude that it does not.”
According to the law firm, Apple’s actions violate the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California’s False Advertising Law and California’s Unfair Competition Law.
The lawsuit seeks damages for consumers. Hagens Berman believes that those who paid premium prices for Apple's AppleCare plans (up to $129) and additional cost for device replacement (upwards of $99) should have received the new devices that Apple promised, not refurbished products passed off as adequate replacements. The firm now seeks the difference in value between devices that work like new and the inferior devices Apple provided class members.
In 2016, Hagens Berman won a suit against Apple and various publishing companies that settled for $560 million on behalf of e-book purchasers forced to pay artificially high prices due to Apple and the publishing companies' colluded price-fixing. That suit went to the Supreme Court, where the Court ruled against Apple. The firm has also filed pending cases against Apple pertaining to screen defects and antitrust violations regarding the Apple Store.
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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.