In 2019, some customers with 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models had issues with uneven backlighting caused by the flex cable wearing out and breaking after repeated opening and closing of the display. The uneven lighting became known as “stage lighting,” with the backlighting eventually failing in many cases.
Now, the judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by a group of consumers over the Stage lighting defect agrees with plaintiff charges that Apple knowingly sold the laptops, despite knowing about the defect thanks to pre-release testing.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila determined that the consumers’ allegations of Apple conducting intensive pre-release testing, which the consumers say was conducted by a team of “reliability engineers” who carried out stress tests and other procedures that would have alerted Apple to defects behind the display failures, sufficiently demonstrate that Apple was aware of the alleged defect.
“The court finds that the allegations of pre-release testing in combination with the allegations of substantial customer complaints are sufficient to show that Apple had exclusive knowledge of the alleged defect,” the judge wrote in his opinion.
Plaintiff Mahan Taleshpour, who is representing a larger group of consumers, says that Apple “continues to deny there was ever a defect in its display cables,” and also says that Apple attempted to cover any evidence of “Flexgate.”
Talehspour claims Apple deliberately deleted comments and threads from its Apple Support Community Forum. Talehspour accuses Apple of deleting comments that outlined “Flexgate” and the issues around the display. The judge says that if the accusation is true, it will act as further proof that Apple was aware of the issue.
If Apple deleted comments on its website from consumers complaining about display issues attributable to the alleged defect, that suggests that Apple had knowledge of the alleged defect, superior to that of plaintiffs or potential class members.
Apple is pushing back, saying that Talehspour bought his MacBook Pro in 2017, and used it without any issues for more than three years until the case was filed.
Apple claims that re-release testing would not have alerted it to the issue.