Third lawsuit filed over ‘defective’ MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard

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MacBook butterfly keyboard
Another lawsuit accuses Apple of knowingly using a defective MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard in laptops like this one,
Photo: Apple

Thinking perhaps that third time’s the charm, another lawsuit has been filed claiming that the keyboard used in the MacBook Pro is defective. Like the two prior ones filed last month, this seeks to become a class action.

All of these suits claim that the keys in Apple’s laptop can become permanently jammed, and a very expensive fix requires replacing the entire keyboard and other components.

Perhaps most troubling is that these lawsuits all accuse Apple of being aware for years that the “butterfly” keyboard design introduced in 2015 is defective and the company has nevertheless continued to use it while concealing the problems from the public.

The latest legal action was brought by Diego Binatena. It was filed this weekend by Scott C. Borison of Legg Law Firm in the California Northern District Court, San Jose Office in Santa Clara, according to Patently Apple.

The lawsuit asks for “monetary, declaratory and equitable relief for Apple’s: 1) breach of its express and implied warranties; 2) breach of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act; 3) breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing; 4) breach of California’s Unfair Competition Law; 5) breach of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act; and 6) fraudulent concealment.”

Binatena requests that his lawsuit be certified as a class action, but that’s up to the court. The court will base its decision on whether a sufficient number of people have been harmed to warrant a class-action suit. If any of the three similar lawsuits is so certified, all are likely to be combined.

Floats like a butterfly, fails like a… something that fails a lot

The keyboard design at the canter of this controversy debuted in the 2015 MacBook, and was later used in the 2016 MacBook Pro. It’s been a part of all subsequent models.

The name “butterfly” comes from the primary internal component. On older keyboards, this looked like a pair of scissors. Apple redesigned the mechanism to look like a butterfly.

MacBook butterfly keyboard
The MacBook butterfly keyboard is thinner, but less reliable.
Photo: Apple

The MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard is thinner, but the mechanism gets easily stuck, according to three  lawsuits and a recall petition. The petition has nearly 30,000 signatures.

The design more evenly distributes the pressure from tapping on the keys. However, the keys get easily jammed if any particle gets into the mechanism. And repair is costly because not only does the keyboard need to be swapped out, it’s glued to several other MacBook components, including the battery. “The cost of replacing a keyboard is approximately $700,” according to the lawsuit filed by Binatena.