In 2010, Apple was the target of more lawsuits than any other company in Silicon Valley. That notwithstanding, if you're looking to attract a bevy of media attention with a frivolous lawsuit, it's always a good idea to come up with something involving the iPhone. Over the past few years, people have sued Apple for poor iPhone reception and even for lowering the price of the original iPhone shortly after it was released in 2007. That's not to say that all iPhone-related lawsuits are without merit, but Apple's iconic device sure lends itself to absurd lawsuits from time to time.
The latest tidbit of iPhone-related litigation involves a Los Angeles man named Donald LeBuhn looking to file a class action suit against Apple. LeBuhn alleges that the iPhone 4 design is defective on account of the fact that his daughter dropped her iPhone 4 from a distance of 3 feet, resulting in the product's glass screen cracking. LeBuhn asserts that Apple's statements regarding the durability of the iPhone 4 are misleading and that the company hasn't sufficiently warned consumers about the "fragility" of the iPhone 4.
Specifically, LeBuhn takes issue with the fact that Apple touts the iPhone 4's glass screen as "chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic." Apple also explicitly claims that the iPhone 4's glass isultra-durable and made of the same type of material used in the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains.
And therein lies the crux of LeBuhn's argument.
“Months after selling millions of iPhone 4s, Apple has failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective," the complaint reads.
In seeking class-action status, LeBuhn wants Apple to refund him the $252 he paid for the iPhone along with reimbursing members of the proposed class for any repair fees they might have incurred on account of a shattered iPhone 4 exterior.
So does LeBuhn have a case? Well, I'd be very surprised if this is granted class-action status though it is worth mentioning that warranty provider SquareTrade analyzed accident reports from over 20,000 iPhone 4's covered under SquareTrade care plans and "found a 82% increase in reported broken screens compared to the iPhone 3GS." Moreover, their study found that the overall accident rate for the iPhone 4 was 68% higher than for the iPhone 3GS with the vast majority of iPhone 4 accidents having to do with cracked screens.
Now before you go jumping to conclusions, SquareTrade makes a point of noting that the accident rates for both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 are significantly lower than what they've seen for other smartphones. Also, the 82% increase might sound daunting, but that's derived from 2.1% of iPhone 3GS owners reporting cracked screens and 3.9% of iPhone owners reporting cracked screens - still relatively low percentages.
But at the end of the day, Apple doesn't advertise the iPhone 4 as shatterproof and LeBuhn would have probably been better off by taking his device into an Apple Store to see if he could get a replacement. While Apple's return policy doesn't exactly cover family members dropping devices from a few feet up, stories of Apple retail employees going above and beyond to address broken Apple products abound. Initiating a class action over this really just seems like a money grab.
via LA Weekly