Apple settled a class-action lawsuit over its faulty butterfly keyboard design back in November, and Reuters reports that the $50 million settlement has now been given the final approval from a U.S. federal judge. Affected MacBook users will soon begin to receive payouts of between $50 and $395. The judge called the settlement “fair, adequate, and reasonable” in his ruling.
The payment will include $13.6 million in attorney fees, up to $2 million in litigation costs, and $1.4 million in settlement administration costs, with the rest distributed to class members.
The lawsuit covers customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, who complained that Apple knew of and concealed the fact that its 2015 and later MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro machines were equipped with “butterfly” keyboards that were prone to failure and that its repair program for the keyboard was insufficient, as the replacement keyboards could also fail.
Apple manufactured MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook models with butterfly keyboards in 2015 and 2016. Apple promoted the thinness of the keyboard and the superior key feel and stability. Not too long after the keyboards launched, customers learned that they failed easily.
Customers experienced issues with keys repeating, sticking, and otherwise failing when dust and other particulates got into the butterfly mechanism, resulting in a huge outcry from buyers.
While Apple launched a keyboard repair program in June 2018, the program only covered MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air models for four years. The lawsuit alleged that Apple’s repair program was not sufficient, as Apple would replace the butterfly keyboards with another butterfly keyboard, so some customers experienced repeated failures that are no longer covered.
Apple eventually made three generations of the butterfly keyboard, none of which proved to be less troublesome. All Mac models now available now use the more reliable scissor-switch keyboard mechanism.
There was some concern that the settlement could be in peril, as some members of the class-action lawsuit had argued that the middle tier of the settlement amounts was insufficient. The embattled payment tier was the $125 payout to MacBook users that had a single keyboard replacement performed by Apple.
However, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila rejected those claims in his ruling. “The possibility that a better settlement may have been reached – or that the benefits provided under the settlement will not make class members ‘whole’ – are insufficient grounds to deny approval,” Davila wrote.
Other MacBook owners argued that the settlement should include payments to “MacBook owners who experienced keyboard failures but who did not get them repaired.” Davila also rejected this.
Claims for the lawsuit had to be filed by March and more than 86,000 claims were submitted.
The lawyers in the class-action lawsuit (Girard Sharp and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith), said they “look forward to getting the money out to our clients.”