The Details Emerge in the 'Error 53' Class Action Lawsuit against Apple
On Monday we posted a report titled "A Seattle Law Firm is looking to file a Class Action Lawsuit against Apple over the 'Error 53" Controversy," and late yesterday the law firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala (PCVA) filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in federal court. Today's report covers the law firm's press release and part of their court filing introductory commentary. To further serve the Apple community, we've also enclosed a full Scribd document covering the full class action filing that will fill you in with all of the details that may be interest to you.
PCVA's Official Press Release In-Part
Apple has been under fire for its policy of permanently disabling (a practice referred to as "bricking") iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units that have had their fingerprint sensors damaged or had hardware replaced by third-party repair stores. The phones are bricked after users install a phone update. Once bricked the phone is essentially useless. 'Error 53' refers to the message displayed to users who are no longer able to use their phones after installing the update.
"The first objective is to get all the affected iPhone customers re-outfitted with working phones, and without the overwhelming costs that thousands of people are facing right now with error 53 codes and bricked phones," said Darrell Cochran, lead attorney for the class action lawsuit. "That will provide immediate relief to the consumers and, in the end, it will also help Apple," Cochran said.
Apple representatives have claimed the policy of disabling phones was a security measure to protect users from having their personal data compromised. But PCVA attorney Cochran doesn't buy into Apple's security safeguard explanations.
"If security was the primary concern, then why did the phones work just fine, sometimes for several months, without the software update," Cochran asked. "Error 53 only rears its ugly head when downloading a newer version of Apple's operating system."
Cochran said Apple's failure to give a warning about the consequences of its update on phones, including the loss of all information in the phone, has consumers crying foul.
"No materials we've seen from Apple ever show a disclosure that your phone would self-destruct if you download new software onto a phone," Cochran said. "If Apple wants to kill your phone under any set of circumstances and for any reason, it has to make it crystal clear to its customers before the damage is done."
Compounding the problem, according to Cochran, is how disagreeable Apple's reaction to the problem has been. "The error code 53 signals the death of the phone, and Apple's response has been to say 'you have no options; it's not covered under warranty, and you have to buy a new phone.'"
The Lawsuit's Introduction In-Part
In PCVA's lawsuit filed with the court, they note in their introductory commentary that "Almost a decade ago, the Apple Corporation pioneered the cellular phone industry with the advent of the iPhone, a device that hundreds of millions of consumers across the globe have purchased. The iPhone has become a technological and cultural phenomenon, creating an enormous influence that has impacted all age groups and all socio-economic levels. The Apple Corporation has been both ingenious in its creation of these influential products and complete in its control of all aspects of their marketing, distribution, and repair. Apple's enormous success with the iPhone has resulted in what is frequently described as a "cult-like following," and the establishment of a powerful control over the technology marketplace now reflected in its corporate market capitalization of over $700 billion.
As is invariably true of power and control, too much of a good thing becomes problematic and, even, abusive. Apple's Error 53 code, for which this lawsuit seeks redress, represents Apple's control over the product gone too far. Error 53 is the result of an imbedded function within iOS, Apple's operating system, that affects iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus smartphones (collectively, "Affected Models"; generically, "device" or "devices" or "iPhones"). The code has rendered thousands of the Affected Models completely disabled or "bricked" after its users updated iOS or restored the device from a backup. After spending hundreds of dollars purchasing Affected Models, the Plaintiffs here had their phone rendered useless.
Consumers began receiving an Error 53 code in early 2015 and likely earlier. Many consumers raised the issue with Apple representatives immediately because an inoperable phone represented hardships both personally and professionally. Apple representatives told consumers that disabled phones could not be fixed under warranty and were a problem the consumer created by using an unauthorized repair service to fix a hardware issue with the phone.
Some consumers had used a repair service other than an Apple service to fix problems such as broken screens and "Home" buttons, but they pointed out to Apple representatives that nothing in marketing materials or purchase documents ever disclosed that their iPhone products would be destroyed by an imbedded software code if they had repaired iPhones using an independent service and then updated to certain iOS versions.
Other consumers advised Apple representatives that no repairs had been done but the error code had disabled their iPhone anyway. Apple has regularly advised consumers who have experienced the Error 53 code that their situation will not be fixed under warranty and, frequently, that the only solution is to purchase a new phone.
Despite months of opportunity to provide a replacement iPhone and/or restore existing iPhones, Apple has offered no remedy to or relief for its customers. This lawsuit seeks to provide both remedy and relief for consumers of the Affected Models who have experienced the Error 53 code.
As of November 2015, it was estimated that more than 62 million units of the Affected Models were in use in the United States, meaning that Apple's misleading and unfair practices as alleged in this Complaint have had and will continue to have a widespread impact on consumers throughout the nation."
Note that all emphasis in yellow noted in the introduction above was generated by Patently Apple and not PCVA.
Due to the level of details found in PCVA's formal court document, Patently Apple presents you with a Scribd version of the document below for your convenience. The court filing covers: Factual Allegations, Class Allegations, Causes of Action, Prayer for relief and more.
Patently Apple: The PCVA "Error 53" Class Action Lawsuit
The Class Action against Apple was filed in the California Northern District Court, San Francisco Office. At this time no Judge has been assigned to case 3:2016cv00705.
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