Apple settles $50 million lawsuit over defective MacBook keyboards — here’s who can get paid

Apple Logo
(Image credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Apple just settled a major lawsuit that will impact a significant amount of its customers. Per Reuters (opens in new tab), the Cupertino-based company settled in court for $50 million to end a lawsuit that accused Apple of knowing and concealing that its "butterfly" keyboards were prone to failure. These keyboards suffered from a defect that caused sticky or unresponsive keys that were easily damaged.

The “butterfly” keyboards were included in several models of its MacBook laptop computers, including several MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. Apple has had a free service program (opens in new tab) for this manufacturing defect for some time, but the plaintiffs in this lawsuit said that the service program was inadequate. In fact, the lawsuit said that Apple would often replace the defective keyboards with the same style of keyboard, increasing the likelihood that a second replacement would be needed.

It is important to note that as part of this settlement Apple admits no wrongdoing regarding the defective keyboards. That being said, Apple actually apologized for the defective “butterfly” keyboards (opens in new tab) back in 2019. 

Apple Keyboard Defects: Who is eligible for compensation 

A picture of a MacBook Pro (2018)

(Image credit: Future)

The Apple customers eligible for compensation are those who purchased an eligible laptop sold between 2015 and 2019. While there is no information regarding which models are specifically eligible, I suspect that it is the same list of models (opens in new tab) currently eligible for free keyboard replacement through Apple.

Another thing worth noting is that the settlement is location-based. Only those customers who purchased their computers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington are eligible for the settlement. However, a report from CNBC (opens in new tab) mentions no such restriction, so you may want to monitor this particular development if you think you are eligible for this settlement.

How much compensation customers are eligible for depends on the number of times that they had to replace their defective keyboards. According to Reuters, “Lawyers for the customers expect maximum payouts of $395 to people who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to people who replaced one keyboard, and $50 to people who replaced key caps.” The news outlet also states that customers remain eligible for Apple’s free keyboard replacement service program for four years following their purchase date.

Apple Keyboard Defects: How do I apply for compensation 

A picture of the 2019 MacBook Air's keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

At the time of writing, the settlement is still yet to be approved by a judge. Until the settlement is approved and legal fees are deducted by the lawyers for the plaintiff, there is no mechanism yet for affected customers to request compensation.

From personal experience though, I can give you some insight into how this settlement — may — be paid out. Often, for settlements such as these, the lawyers already have a substantial database of affected customers. They then reach out via email or mail to reach out to those customers to allow them to register for the settlement. This is the process I had to go through when I was determined to be part of a class action settlement related to a defective ASUS laptop, but not every settlement is handled the same way.

Next: Design fail. The new MacBook Air M2 reportedly has a scuffing problem

Malcolm McMillan
News Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a News Writer for Tom's Guide. Before writing for Tom's Guide, he worked many retail jobs and many Black Fridays, including a stint for Microsoft. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. In his spare time, Malcolm is a fantasy football analyst. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.