Lawsuit over much-maligned MacBook butterfly keyboard gets class-action status

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MacBook butterfly keyboard
A new petition accuses the MacBook 'butterfly' keyboard of failing when a single speck gets in the wrong place.
Photo: Apple

A Federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit accusing Apple of putting defective keyboards in various MacBook models made between 2015 and 2019. These laptops all use the butterfly keyboard design which uses a key mechanism that is allegedly prone to sticking.

Judge Edward Davila certified the class action earlier this month, but his decision has only recently been unsealed. This is a major step toward the lawsuit, which was first filed in 2018, moving toward a trial.

A class-action lawsuit allows a few people to bring a suit on behalf of a large group. In this case, nine plaintiffs who bought supposedly defective MacBooks are suing Apple on behalf of people in California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Florida, Washington, New Jersey and Michigan who also bought these computers. If they win, or the lawsuit is Apple settled, everyone in the group will share in any restitution Apple is required to make.

Why the butterfly MacBook keyboard is controversial

The keyboard design at the center of this controversy debuted in the 2015 MacBook. By replacing the traditional scissor-switch mechanism keyboard with one reminiscent of a butterfly, Apple was able to make its laptops thinner than ever.

Unfortunately, they were problematic. Many users, not just the plaintiffs that brought the class-action lawsuit, claim that keys regularly stopped working when debris or even just dust got trapped under them. But the design has supporters, as many other people used MacBooks with the keyboard for years without ever having a problem.

Apple built the butterfly keyboard into MacBook models released from 2015 to 2017, as well as the MacBook Air produced from 2018 to 2019 and the MacBook Pro from 2016 to 2019 except the 16-inch version.

Apple has since stopped using it. And it offers offers a Keyboard Service Program, fixing MacBooks with butterfly keyboard problems for free.

But the class-action lawsuit accuses the Mac-maker of continuing to put a keyboard it knew was defective into MacBooks and then selling them to consumers.

Via: CourtListener