MacBook owners make progress with lawsuit over faulty keyboards

A judge overseeing a lawsuit regarding Apple’s failure-prone “butterfly” keyboard has given affected customers a boost after granting the case class action status.

Originally filed in May 2018, the case had been stuck in the courts as Apple attempted to get it dismissed. But the decision this month by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, puts the suit back in the spotlight.

It covers customers who bought a MacBook with a butterfly keyboard in either California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. The suit is seeking damages for violations of consumer protection laws in these states.

Affected MacBooks include devices manufactured between 2015 and 2017, MacBook Pros made between 2016 and 2019, and MacBook Airs made in 2018 or 2019.

Aiming to slim down its laptops even further, Apple replaced the traditional “scissor” keyboard mechanism with the butterfly design when it launched the MacBook in 2015. But problems soon started to occur.

The suit claims that the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism has a design fault that makes it susceptible to failure when dust and other debris settles beneath the keys. The keys can stick or stop working entirely, with the issue appearing to occur more frequently than with conventional scissor keyboards.

Updates of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air between 2016 and 2019 included the same butterfly mechanism, so it came as little surprise when new owners started to report the same problem.

The issue prompted Apple to launch a special webpage that suggests the problem can be solved by, for example, holding the laptop at an angle of 75 degrees and spraying compressed air toward the malfunctioning keys.

The tech giant eventually launched a repair program for MacBook, ‌MacBook Pro‌, and MacBook Air laptops with a faulty butterfly keyboard. However, the faulty keyboards are being replaced with new ones that feature a similar mechanism that is also at risk of failing — a point noted in the lawsuit.

The issue has understandably infuriated many customers. One irate owner even wrote an amusing song to vent his frustrations.

Still, for affected owners, a keyboard that doesn’t work is no laughing matter, and while the plaintiffs are not currently requesting a nationwide certification for the lawsuit, the law firm overseeing the suit is encouraging impacted customers to submit their details in an online survey so it can get a better understanding of the scale of the issue.

Apple finally got rid of the problematic butterfly keyboard with the launch of the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019, using  a more  reliable scissor mechanism instead.

Digital Trends has reached out to Apple for comment on the case and we will update this article if we hear back.

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