Apple facing class action lawsuits over MacBook M1 screen cracks

(Image credit: Future)

Last month, we covered reports of screen cracks appearing on the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 laptops, seemingly without any mishandling. 

In some cases Apple reportedly offered free repairs but not in others. Now, the problem has caught the attention of two law firms, which have independently launched class action lawsuits against Apple.

Both Migliaccio & Rathod LLP [PDF] and Bursor & Fisher [PDF] filed lawsuits against Apple in California on Tuesday September 14 — just as the company was unveiling the iPhone 13 at its California Streaming event, our sister site TechRadar reports. 

“Many users allege that they have opened their devices from the closed position without applying any undue pressure, only to find dramatic cracks in the retina display, often accompanied by black bars running across the screen,” writes Migliaccio & Rathod LLP on its site. “Others report that the crack followed a simple adjustment of the screen’s viewing angle. In none of these cases would a reasonable consumer expect such activity to damage their device, let alone cause a screen crack that impairs its functionality. 

“Unfortunately, Apple’s customer service has not been receptive to these grievances,” the document continues. “Users complain that Apple representatives insist the culprit is a small item or particle that gets lodged between the keyboard and screen upon its closing, even when that explanation runs completely counter to users’ experiences.”

Apple has not yet commented on these lawsuits. 

The Bursor & Fisher filing is even more direct. “The M1 MacBook is defective, as the screens are extraordinarily fragile, cracking, blacking out, or showing magenta, purple and blue lines and squares, or otherwise ceasing to function altogether,” the filing, shared by The Register, reads.

“Thousands of users from across the globe have reported this issue directly to Apple and on Apple sponsored forums,” it continues. “Nonetheless, consumers who have attempted to secure replacements or repairs have been rebuffed by Apple, often forced to pay out of pocket upwards of between $600 and $850 for repairs themselves or to secure replacements without Apple’s assistance.”

The suits vary slightly in the list of outcomes sought, but both are united in seeking compensation for the affected parties and an acknowledgement from Apple over the “defective nature” of the laptops. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time Apple has been the target of a class action lawsuit for a perceived defect in its laptops, with the company forced to defend the quality of  the MacBook’s Butterfly keyboard, and push back against ‘Flexgate’, where fraying flexible display cables allegedly caused problems with backlighting. 

While Apple has accepted defects in its products in the past, offering free repairs for those affected by the Butterfly keyboard issues, this is potentially significantly more costly. As outlined above, screen repairs can cost several hundred dollars, so it will be interesting to see how Apple responds to these lawsuits. 

No matter the outcome, we imagine that Apple’s engineers are taking extra care with the design of the upcoming MacBook Pro 2021 to ensure there’s no ammunition for a repeat of this next year. 

We will update this article if and when Apple supplies comment on the issue.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.