MacBook butterfly keyboard lawsuit payouts are imminent

macbook pro keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

Last year, Apple settled a class-action lawsuit over its much-criticized ‘butterfly’ keyboards, which were a feature of MacBooks between 2015 and 2019. Under the terms of the settlement, Apple agreed to pay a combined $50 million to affected consumers, with those eligible in line to receive between $50 and $395, depending on the severity and quantity of repairs required.

Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Edward Davila has given the settlement final approval, meaning that payments should be on the way to affected parties soon. 

This last hurdle involved the judge overruling some complaints from members of the class-action lawsuit, who claimed that the payments didn’t adequately cover all those affected by butterfly keyboard problems. 

There is no compensation for those who had keyboard issues but didn’t seek repair, for example, and it was also pointed out that the middle compensation tier of $125 for a full keyboard replacement isn’t sufficient when the costs involved could be more than double that.

But these points were ultimately rejected by the judge. “The possibility that a better settlement may have been reached — or that the benefits provided under the settlement will not make class members 'whole' — are insufficient grounds to deny approval,” wrote Davila in his order

“Admittedly the settlement provides no compensation to those who experienced keyboard issues and did not receive a repair,” the order continues, “but any settlement necessarily ‘involves some line-drawing, and “full compensation is not a prerequisite for a fair settlement.”’

“While not all who were purportedly injured will receive compensation, the settlement compromise benefits a significant number of individuals,” the order adds. 

This is true: Over 86,000 claims were made, according to the order, though it’s worth noting that the lawyers will take a substantial share of the spoils too, with a request for $15,000,000 in legal fees mentioned. 

This is “5% above the Ninth Circuit’s 25% benchmark for attorneys’ fees in a class action”, the notes state, but there are extenuating circumstances including the success of the outcome (“other product defect cases involving Apple have yielded substantially lower payments,” the order explains), the complexity and risk involved in product liability claims, and the lawyers’ work on contingency.

If you were affected but didn’t claim, it’s unfortunately too late — the window to submit applications closed back in March. If you applied and were successful, you should be receiving money soon, though no date has been confirmed. 

Nonetheless, lawyers from Girard Sharp and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith say they “look forward to getting the money out to our clients.” 

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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.