US court upholds claim against Apple, forcing huge cash payout

iPhone customers in the US could receive up to $90 each after court upholds compensation settlement 

A US court has dismissed an appeal against a class action lawsuit involving Apple, meaning that the tech giant must now pay out a previously-negotiated settlement of between $310 million and $500 million in cash compensation. Owners of affected iPhones could get up to $90 each. 

The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed appeals from two individual members of the class action lawsuit who objected to the terms of the settlement, meaning that the payments to claimants can now be sent.

The class action, filed in 2018 by lead litigators Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, became known as ‘Batterygate’. It claimed that Apple used ‘software throttling’ – where iOS updates deliberately slowed down the overall performance of iPhones with ageing batteries to stop them shutting down without warning – in order to mask the poor performance of early battery types. 

In the UK, consumer rights campaigner Justin Gutmann has launched a similar £768 million claim on behalf of UK Apple customers. Around 23.8 million people in the UK may be eligible for compensation, including those who bought one of the affected iPhone models after 12 December 2016 (iPhone 6/6 Plus/6S/SE/7/7 Plus). 

Gutmann has instructed the law firm Charles Lyndon to represent him in the claim. Dorothea Antzoulatos, Director and Lawyer at Charles Lyndon, says:

‘We are delighted that millions of claimants in the US are receiving compensation for Apple’s conduct and the subsequent impact on the performance of their iPhones.  We are working with Mr Gutmann on behalf of UK iPhone owners to ensure that they are similarly compensated as soon as possible.’

What’s happening with the UK claim?

In the UK, a decision first needs to be made by the specialist competition court about whether the claim will proceed to full trial. The Competition Appeal Tribunal postponed its decision about whether it should proceed in May 2022 because it had questions it wanted answers to first. 

A case management conference took place in June this year in which the legal team was granted access to key evidence from Apple. Another hearing will take place in September 2023 which will decide whether the claim gets the green light to go ahead. 

Gutmann said:

‘It is good news for US consumers that many of them will now be receiving compensation for the losses they have suffered due to Apple’s action. Though encouraging, this outcome has no direct effect on my action. I’m looking forward to the hearing in September when we can begin the process of putting this outrageous wrong to rights.’

Sign up to Consumer Voice to stay updated as the claim progresses. 

Why did the US case take so long to conclude?

The case against Apple in the US was filed in 2017, but court procedures and the appeals process have slowed down the batterygate class-action lawsuit. Consumers had a deadline of October 2020 to sign up to the class action in order to receive compensation. Only those 100 million people who did so will be part of the settlement.

Mark C. Molumphy, a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP said:

‘The settlement is the result of years of investigation and hotly contested litigation. We are extremely proud that this deal has been approved, and following the Ninth Circuit’s order, we can finally provide immediate cash payments to impacted Apple customers.’

We contacted Apple UK for comment on this story. 

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