Apple Hit with Slew of Class Actions over Throttling Practice

According to various published reports, there are approximately 60 class-action lawsuits filed in the United States and at least one in Canada suing Apple for allegedly slowing down or “throttling” consumers’ iPhones without consent or warning.  The lawsuits began at the tail end of 2017 after Apple acknowledged it had throttled certain older iPhone models.  Apple contended the reason for its actions was to prevent unintended shutdowns of older batteries. Consumers allege the throttling was done to boost sales of newer, faster iPhones.

In the United States, the multiple lawsuits will likely be consolidated into one suit under the auspices of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The consolidation will likely result in the case being heard in the Northern District of California, where Apple is based and where over half of the lawsuits have been filed. A hearing is set for late March.

In an attempt to mitigate the bad publicity and/or the damages, Apple has announced a new battery replacement program that allows users with out-of-warranty devices to purchase a new battery at a discount ($29).

However, discount batteries have not satisfied the plaintiffs’ attorneys. "By intentionally substantially slowing iPhones, Apple not only interfered with users' personal property, but they did so while keeping consumers totally in the dark" said Joel Rochon in a press release. Rochon is a partner at Rochon Genova LLP, the law firm that filed the Canadian lawsuit.

Takeaway: Despite Apple’s admission that it slowed down certain iPhones, expect the company to defend these lawsuits aggressively. The legal battle begins with a bid to consolidate these lawsuits in the Northern District of California, where a judge (and eventually a jury) may be sympathetic to the business explanations advanced by one of the tech giants and largest employers based in that that jurisdiction.

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