Glitchy MacBook Pros were doomed from the start, lawyer claims

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Photo: Raj Dsouza
Photo: Raj Dsouza

A number of users have experienced graphics issues with their 2011 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro models, and following a Facebook group and change.org petition which have gathered a collected 25,000 names, law firm Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple on behalf of affected consumers.

“I’ve been involved with a number of lawsuits with Apple, going back decades, and I’m not aware of one that affected so many people, that Apple refused to do anything about,” says Gary E. Mason, the Managing Partner of Whitfield Bryson & Mason, speaking with Cult of Mac. “At the very least these consumers are entitled to a discount on a new laptop to help them transition to a serviceable device.”

Mason says that while only tens of thousands of customers have come forward so far, the affected number of consumers could be in the hundreds of thousands.

The firm’s lawsuit lays out the plaintiffs’ argument that the issue relates to hardware defects from the lead-free solder used on the AMD graphics chips in the suspect MacBook Pro models.

“Most of the failures are out of warranty, which Apple is using as a defense,” Mason says. “But that’s not entirely true. This problem was there from the very beginning. We suspect that it relates to a problem which occurred at the point of manufacture. In other words, it wasn’t a conforming good at the time of the sale. There are a number of users who thought they had the problem fixed while it was in-warranty, only to discover that they continue to have problems. As far as we can tell, there is no remedy to the problem.”

In many cases, Apple charged consumers for repairs and has refused requests to reimburse them for money paid for out of pocket. The suit from Whitfield Bryson & Mason is arguing that Apple should acknowledge a defect in the 2011 MacBook Pro models, notify owners of this issue, bear the cost of inspecting affected laptops, and should pay the full costs of repairs and damages — including reimbursements for existing repairs.

Of course, the legal question is at what point past warranty Apple devices should be expected to continue working.

“There’s no set rule, but with this particular device — which is a premium device — I can assure you that there isn’t a person out there that expects the lifespan of a $3,000 laptop to be less than three years,” Mason says. “In my estimation, at that price and given Apple’s reputation, the expectation would be closer to five years at a minimum.”

While Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue, now that legal paperwork has been filed it has 30 days to respond.

You can read the complaint in full here.