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Class action lawsuit targets Apple over defective iPhone 4 buttons

updated 06:25 pm EDT, Tue May 14, 2013

Says Apple was aware of issue but kept quiet

A Florida woman, Debra Hilton, has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple on behalf of iPhone 4 owners, says GigaOM. The case alleges that Apple knew about a flex cable defect that was causing problems with the phone's power button, but stayed quiet to sell phones without fixing the issue. A lawyer for Hilton points to threads on Apple's support forums, as well as a repair video on YouTube claiming that the issue is prevalent with the 4.

Hilton further alleges that the defect typically only shows up after a phone's one-year warranty has expired, forcing people to pay $149 for a repair. Apple is being sued under RICO statutes and California's unfair competition laws, with a demand for over $5 million in damages.

The lawsuit is unusual in that while Apple has been hit with numerous iPhone lawsuits in the past, the cases usually involve more recent devices. The iPhone 4 is still on sale, but first debuted in the summer of 2010.

by MacNN Staff



  1. apostle

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-16-08

    A quick Internet search seems to indicate that the iPhone 5 also experiences this issue. I saw a story/rumor today that Apple may be replacing this feature with a non-mechanical solution.

    I'm curious as to what steps this lady took before deciding on a lawsuit.

    Personally I think it would have been easier, had Apple declined fixing a known issue at no cost, to simply pay the $150.00 to have the phone fixed. Then open a website or blog or survey inviting others to add their voice to this issue. Contact the media and the Better Business Bureau. I think this would go a lot further in addressing the issue as a whole than would multiple and isolated lawsuits.


  1. mgpalma

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 09-27-00

    Got to make sure we keep all the class-action lawyers employed...

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    I don't think they're going to get very far with the RICO thing. From my understanding, the action/actions in question would have to have been illegal, or created with the intent cause harm/hardship.
    The part has been shown to fail for a portion of the purchasers, over a wide range of time after purchase, including under warranty.
    Under warranty, the service of that failed part is free. Out of warranty, $150.00. A bit steep, but a solution is available. Apple didn't say, "No. You have to buy a new phone." (though arguably, you can in fact, for the same money).
    You can even get the part replaced by third party for somewhat less, if I'm not mistaken.

  1. jpellino

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-29-99

    Rule #1 - get the $99 AppleCare+ for your iPhone. It covers all repairs for the two year contract and allows you two accidental replacements for $49 each. If you can destroy a phone three times in two years you may not want to keep buying expensive phones. For the free model, it's a no brainer. For the $99 model it's still pretty painless. For the $199 model I might think about it for 29 days, but it's a good idea with a device this small, packed and with little or no user-serviceable parts.

    I too wish every company sold their bulletproof hardware for $1 and fixed it for free forever and was a racketeer f they refused to do so, but given the hardware and Real Life, this is doable.

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