Firm that won $450M iBooks pricing case against Apple files class action lawsuit over iPhone throttling

Despite its apology and cheaper battery replacement pricing, Apple is still facing scrutiny for how it slows down older iPhones in conjunction with battery wear. Joining the growing number of cases against Apple, consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman has filed a class action suit against Apple for “secretly” installing a “feature to intentionally slow down” the iPhone.

If that law firm sounds familiar, it’s because Hagens Berman was the firm behind the infamous $450 million iBooks price fixing case against Apple…

Hagens Berman filed its suit yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The firm accuses Apple of attempting to “cover up” the fact that it was slowing down older iPhones and only came public due to growing press and consumer “uproar.”

Apple’s initial silent rollout of the feature, the firm claims, was an action of misreprenstation and deception, seeing that consumers did not know of or give consent to the slowdown feature:

Like every vendor, Apple has duties of truthfulness and candor to its customers. It also has the duty not to purposely degrade the performance of its customers’ phones, and certainly not without their knowledge or permission

Yet Apple has violated these duties by arrogating to itself the right to throttle the performance of millions of iPhones under at least three common conditions, such that its behavior will likely affect millions of consumers. What’s more, Apple acted by misrepresentation and deception. Consumers did not know of, or consent, to Apple’s decision to slow their devices.

Furthermore, the suit alleges that Apple’s actions leave consumers with few options and limited information about how it handled the feature. The case claims that, by not informing users of the feature when it was originally introduced last year, Apple pushed customers to upgrade to the latest iPhone model because they were “likely led to believe their iPhones were suffering performance issues.”

Apple’s actions leave consumers with limited options and information. Many were likely led to believe that their iPhones were suffering performance issues because they were essentially obsolete, and so they purchased new iPhones from Apple. And, no doubt, many owners of affected iPhones bought batteries at $79, before Apple came clean.

All in all, Hagens Berman accuses Apple of trespassing consumer property, violating Calorfonia’s unfair competition law, fraudulent misrepresentation, and “quantum merit to recover sums received by unjust enrichment.”

The class action suit is seeking damages paid to consumers and compensation to users who purchased new batteries or new iPhones in response to the slowdown.

Hagens Berman believes iPhone owners deserve compensation for Apple’s cover-up and insufficient solution. The firm seeks compensation for lack of performance, as well as compensation for those who purchased new batteries or new iPhones (often at the urging of Apple representatives) to circumvent Apple’s secretive and unauthorized slowdown of millions of iPhones.

This lawsuit, unlike some of the others, seems to focus more on how Apple silently rolled out the feature without consent rather than the actual slowdown itself. While there are still broad claims of planned obsolesce, the suit relates those claims to the lack of information consumers were given regarding why their iPhones were performing slowly.

The success of this lawsuit remains to be seen, but Hagens Berman has successfully defeated Apple in the past. Despite Apple’s continual battle, the firm successfully defeated the company the infamous ebooks price fixing case, which saw Apple pay out $450 million in damages to consumers.


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