Apple pays $50 million settlement for defective ‘butterfly’ keyboards

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Apple has agreed to pay $50 million in a class-action lawsuit filed by MacBook customers for defective “butterfly” keyboards without admitting wrongdoing, according to settlement documents reviewed by CNBC.

The lawsuit alleged that the company was aware that its butterfly wrenches were prone to malfunction, but concealed this fact from customers.

The proposed preliminary settlement, which still requires a judge’s approval, was filed in federal court in San Jose, California late Monday night.

For those who don’t know, the so-called “butterfly” keyboard was developed and introduced as an innovation with the 2015 12-inch MacBook, to make the laptops look thinner. However, Apple’s butterfly keyboards were prone to malfunction. Customers started complaining that certain keys would not register after being exposed to dirt or dust, while others reported that certain keys would be registered twice.

In 2019, Apple acknowledged the problem and apologized to its users for keyboard problems. It launched repair programs for its customers to have their keyboards repaired for free. The Cupertino giant also fixed most of the issues and brought a revamped Magic Keyboard, starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro released in late 2019.

Under the proposed settlement, the eligible devices for payout are the MacBook, MacBook Air and most MacBook Pro models sold between 2015 and 2019. for payouts.

As part of the settlement, customers who had to replace their keyboard multiple times can expect payouts between $300 and $395. Those who had to replace their keyboard once could receive $125, while those who got a replacement for a single keycap $50 could get, according to the submission.

Furthermore, Apple will only distribute money to customers in seven US states, namely California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

Law firms Girard Sharp LLP and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner and Donaldson-Smith LLP representing the plaintiffs can claim up to $15 million of the $50 million settlement to cover legal costs.

Apple has not yet commented on the matter. The company has extended free keyboard repairs to four years after purchase for customers who bought MacBooks with butterfly keys.

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