Judge Gives Final Approval to $50 Million Apple Butterfly Keyboard Lawsuit Settlement, Payments to Begin Soon

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Reuters reports that Apple’s $50 million settlement of the class-action lawsuit over its faulty MacBook butterfly keyboard design has now been given the final approval from a U.S. federal judge. Apple settled the lawsuit back in November.

Affected MacBook owners that have filed for a piece of the settlement will soon begin to receive settlement payments of between $50 and $395. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila called the settlement “fair, adequate, and reasonable” in his settlement ruling.

Apple’s payment will include $13.6 million in lawyer fees, as much as $2 million in litigation costs, and $1.4 million in administration costs. The rest will be distributed to class members.

Claimants are expected to receive the following payouts: $395 to those who replaced more than one keyboard, $125 to those who had one keyboard replaced, and $50 to those who only replaced keycaps.

Only MacBook customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington were eligible for the settlement. The class-action participants claimed that Apple knew about and also concealed that its 2015 and later MacBook machines (including MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro) equipped with “butterfly” keyboards tended to fail and responded with an insufficient keyboard repair program, as the replacement keyboards could also prove to be faulty and fail.

The affected MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook models with butterfly keyboards were manufactured in 2015 and 2016. Not too long after the release of the MacBooks with the butterfly keyboards, customers began experiencing issues with MacBook keys sticking, repeating, and failing when dust and other minute particulates got into the butterfly mechanism. The issues resulted in numerous complaints from buyers.

Apple responded by launching a keyboard repair program in June 2018. However, the class-action lawsuit alleged that Apple’s repair program was insufficient. Plaintiffs claimed Apple replaced the butterfly keyboards with another, supposedly improved butterfly keyboard, which led to some customers experiencing repeated failures that were no longer covered by the program.

Apple eventually produced three models of the MacBook’s butterfly keyboard, all of which proved to have issues. Current MacBook models have keyboards that use a more reliable scissor-switch mechanism.

Some members of the class-action lawsuit protested that the middle-tier settlement amount (a $125 payment) was insufficient. That payment will be made to MacBook users that had Apple perform a single keyboard replacement.

However, Judge Edward Davila rejected the members’ claims in his ruling. “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,” Davila wrote.

Some MacBook owners also argued that the settlement should include payments to MacBook owners who were stricken with keyboard failures but failed to get them repaired. Davila also rejected this argument.

More than 86,000 claims were submitted before the March 6, 2023 filing deadline.

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