Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Smudged Mac Screens

A trio of Mac users are alleging that the iMac suffers from a design flaw that causes smudging on the all-in-one computer's display and overheating on the computer's motherboard. And they've filed a lawsuit against the computer maker.

Credit: Hagens Berman

(Image credit: Hagens Berman)

The suit, filed today (Nov. 28) in the U.S. District Court's Northern District of California, seeks class action status for anyone who owns or owned a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac or iMac Pro — essentially any Mac with a display.

The plaintiffs in the case — a Phoenix, Ariz. photographer, and two other iMac owners from Castle Rock, Colo., and New Berlin, Wis., respectively — allege that the vents and fans in Apple's computers don't have any filters and that dirt sucked in by the fans can get stuck behind the Mac's display, creating smudges that appear on the display. The three plaintiffs say they experienced this smudging with the 27-inch iMac, and the lawsuit sites Apple support forums where users complain of a similar problem.

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The suit also alleges that a lack of filters causes dust to accumulate on the motherboards of Macs, causing the motherboard to overheat and the computer to crash.

We've reached out to Apple for comment on the lawsuit and will update this story when we hear back.

The suit is seeking monetary damages for Mac owners whose screens didn't perform as advertised as well as damages for people who paid for repairs out of pocket if Apple didn't cover the cost of a fix. (According to the lawsuit, Apple charges $600 to replace the screen of Macs not covered by warranty.) The suit also asks for damages for anyone who sold their Mac "at a loss" because of problems with the display or motherboard related to dust accumulation.

The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman, a law firm that previously tussled with Apple in a case over e-book price fixing allegations. Apple ultimately paid out $400 million to affected customers under a settlement for that cast.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.