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Apple Settles Antennagate Class-Action Lawsuit 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A preliminary settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought against Apple in June 2010 over the 'Antennagate' fiasco. Ira Rothken, co-lead counsel for the case, says there are 21 million people entitled to either $15 or a free bumper. 'The settlement comes from 18 separate lawsuits that were consolidated into one. All share the claim that Apple was "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software." The settlement has its own Web site, www.iPhone4Settlement.com, which will be up in the coming weeks (the site doesn't go anywhere right now). There, customers will be able to get information about the settlement and how to make a claim. As part of the arrangement, e-mails will also be sent alerting original buyers to the settlement before April 30, 2012. The claims period is then open for 120 days.'"
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Apple Settles Antennagate Class-Action Lawsuit

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  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:27PM (#39085901)

    "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software."

    So naturally, the people who actually had the problem are entitled to fifteen (count 'em!) dollars.

    Are there any figures for the people who got a full refund for a phone that was - according to some, anyway - not fit for purpose?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @01:16PM (#39086169)

      I own an iphone4 and live in a rural area. The iphone4 was unusable at my house until I put a bumper case on it. However when I put a bumper case on it, the phone started working perfectly, the reception was as good as any other phone I had tried (I used to be a blackberry user). That is why this didn't blow up bigger in my opinion.

      Also, I highly recommend apple's bumper case, they fit so tightly onto the phone it seems like you aren't using much of a case at all. A friend of mine gave me an apple bumper case or I would have never tried one. They add a certain amount of needed grippyness but not too much (the non-apple one I'm using right now pulls my entire pocket out with it). The apple case I received from a friend was made for an AT&T phone so the ringer switch was hard to use, so I'll use this settlement to get a case that fits my phone.

      The disappointing part is that apple was allowed to make extra money on bumper cases all this time. I never bought one from them and it did not feel right to have to buy one from them to get my phone work. At the same time, since I had found a workaround, I wanted to keep my new smartphone because I was really enjoying how well it worked doing everything else.

      More useless anecdotal evidence :)

      Also, recently I have started hanging out in apple stores telling people who show up to buy a power adapter that they need to go home and check out adaptersettlement.com and bring their laptop/strain damaged laptop instead of spending $80. Made two people REALLY happy last week, but it was apple's fault, they made me come in a second time for my adapter settlement, so I was working overtime on my information campaign.

    • You get some compensation with no risk or effort on your part in a class action lawsuit. The attorneys take all of the risk - if they don't win, they get no $$$ and have to pay their staff out of pocket - so they get most of the money. Don't like it, hire your own lawyer at your own financial risk.

      Name a better system if you can. There's government oversight and enforcement, but the same sort of people that wage war on their own class by buying propaganda on class action lawsuits, unions, etc usually opp

  • Lawyers rake it in (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SirBitBucket (1292924) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:30PM (#39085915)
    Once again, some law firm gets millions for shuffling some paperwork around, and the consumers who actually experienced the problem get a few bucks each. Just doesn't seem right.
    • by CoolVC (131998)

      In this case they are giving a bumper case that resolves the issue. Seems fair.

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:53PM (#39086043) Journal

        Yeah, but Apple already gave everyone a free bumper who wanted one. The problem is that it solves the antenna issue, but causes the phone to be the wrong size for every docking connector made for the phone, including all "compatible" and official Apple accessories when installed. I just hold mine differently (really, it almost feels like someone else is holding it). Seems like a lawsuit that should never have been dismissed early based on Apple's official response.

        • by Mista2 (1093071)

          And all the customers who bought one after the bumper case program ran out? Interesting that Apple pulled out all the stops to replace a plastic screen with glass on the original phone, but couldn't work out how to stop bridging that lile gap when the phone is held normally?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          The problem is that it solves the antenna issue, but causes the phone to be the wrong size for every docking connector made for the phone, including all "compatible" and official Apple accessories when installed.

          This is NOT true. I've had an Apple supplied bumper from day one and have NEVER taken it off.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by oGMo (379)

      They're fixing the problem. You bought a phone with the expectation it would work under normal circumstances (i.e. being held), it didn't, and this forces them to rectify the issue.

      You aren't entitled to out-of-proportion rewards, like millions of dollars, Apple being put out of business, a new phone, or even a refund. You bought a phone with a poor antenna design, and they provided a satisfactory workaround. Get over it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by jo_ham (604554)

        It wasn't even that bad of a design to begin with. Under all the conditions where an internal antenna would work acceptably (ie, when the phone was being held in any possible position) the 4's antenna also worked fine. It was only in marginal conditions where internal antennas, like the one in the 3GS, would not receive a signal in the first place that the detuning showed up.

        The design should have figured both left and right handed use from the start, certainly, but it was nowhere near as bad as many were m

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The antenna is far worse than other high end phones when the problem kicks in. It is undeniably an issue.

          The bumper prevents the phone fitting most docks and isn't what I'd call attractive.

      • Nope, only the lawyers are entitled to millions. You get $15 bucks or a cheap plastic case. There's got to be a better way to keep companies honest than giving some schmuck lawyer millions of dollars and everyone else pittance. Christ, the last class action I qualified for I got a 10% off coupon for services from the company that screwed me. My settlement was participation in their marketing campaign for pete's sake.
      • by afabbro (33948)

        Get over it.

        I think the OP is pointing out the ritual of class action lawsuits in America. A CAL is filed and won or settled for tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Lawyers take 30-50% and the rest is divided over the huge pool in the class, hence often resulting in a few bucks each.

        It's a perverted system - as a big company, you are spared having to pay anything of substance to each litigant, yet the overall effect is still big. Lawyers love it because they get rich.

        I usually get 2-3 letters or postcards a year

        • This was indeed my original point. I tend to ignore all those class action letters. I had one where a company actually screwed me out of 3500 USD. I got a $35.00 check. The lawyers got a couple hundred grand, and they were in no way wronged. (It was like getting blood from a turnip or I would have gone after them for the max in small claims. I figured I would get nothing. So perhaps 1% is not so bad...)
          • by theNAM666 (179776)

            $3500 is real money.

            If your story is true as stated, you likely had the choice to litigate in local small claims. As stated, the chances that the company would have settled when served with a lawsuit are at least 90%.

            You chose not to, and to participate in the class action instead, for whatever reason.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @01:06PM (#39086107)

      You are more than able to bring your own case, accept the risks of doing so, and reap whatever you get Apple to settle for.

      Those legal costs might very well take a big bite out of whatever you get. And if you lose, you will still have legal costs to cover - thems be the risks.

      • by theNAM666 (179776) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:18PM (#39087387)

        Actually, no, no, no no no.

        With the existing precident, you are almost guaranteed to win in any small claims venue. Your costs range from free to about $75. You can represent yourself.

        On the other hand, Apple, as a corporation, is going to have to send a lawyer. At $350/hr or so, they're going to spend at least $5000 on the case -- time, travel, expenses (hotel etc).

        If you sue them for $500 or less, it simply makes sense to settle. And in fact, I've only seen Apple not settle once-- when a law student at Berkeley did them the convenience of (intentionally) suing them in Cupertino over a defective laptop.

        Guess what? He still won. Small claims litigation is not massive class action. It has restricted, common sense rules and proceeds by a common sense, preponderance of the evidence. Guys in fancy suits tend not to impress judges who have deep caseloads to clear.

        In this case, the question is the damages. Hard to calculate, but I could see service costs over a year, plus some punitive or retributive damages in some jurisdictions. The higher you make it, the more incentive you give Apple to fight, so realistically, I'd peg a reasonable suit at $500-750.

        If it's worth your time to do the research and/or go through the hoops of the small claims procedure in your jurisdiction (5-10 hours for a novice), then I'd say go for it. If people did it all the time, corporations would be much more careful and responsive.

        Otherwise, my point is that the parent post is mostly FUD, mixed with ignorance.

    • Once again, some law firm gets millions for shuffling some paperwork around, and the consumers who actually experienced the problem get a few bucks each. Just doesn't seem right.

      And that law firm spent a million to do that shuffling. Would you pay a lawyer a million dollars to sue Apple over $15? Of course not. No one would. So, absent a class action suit, everyone would just suck up their $15 loss and Apple - or any other large company - would get away with it.

      Class action suits are more about punishing the company for wrongdoing than compensating consumers... which is why it's not surprising that there are a lot of shills out there arguing that they're wrong and that lawyers are

      • Point taken...

        ( you.isLawer() == true ) || ( you.GetParent().isLawer() == true )

        That's ok, we do sometimes need lawyers, like when the Feds come knocking... ;)

        • Sometimes we need good spelling in our code too... But it was the original library author who spelled those methods lawer instead of lawyer...
      • by theNAM666 (179776)

        >And that law firm spent a million to do that shuffling. Would you pay a lawyer a million dollars to sue Apple over $15? Of course not.

        No, but you wouldn't be paying $1 million. $15 or $150 or $1500 (all reasonable amounts to sue for) are small claims-- $25,000 is the small claims limit in my jurisdiction, and $1500 is the lowest state-set jurisdictional limit in the US.

        In small claims, you can represent yourself. The filing fee can range from free to about $75. As a corporation, Apple needs to se

        • >And that law firm spent a million to do that shuffling. Would you pay a lawyer a million dollars to sue Apple over $15? Of course not.

          No, but you wouldn't be paying $1 million. $15 or $150 or $1500 (all reasonable amounts to sue for) are small claims-- $25,000 is the small claims limit in my jurisdiction, and $1500 is the lowest state-set jurisdictional limit in the US.

          In small claims, you can represent yourself. The filing fee can range from free to about $75. As a corporation, Apple needs to send a lawyer across the company to respond to my suit, pay that lawyer $350/hr, pay his travel and lodging expenses, etc etc.

          The above is an imbalance that highly favors the plaintiff. In practice, I've never heard of Apple sending a lawyer (outside cases filed in Cupertino) for anything under $5000; they settle, because the costs of not settling are enormously disproportionate. As do almost all corporations.

          One-on-one lawsuits and class actions are entirely different things.

          Or, they'll default. And then you can pursue them for your $15 default judgement. And after spending hours and hours of your time, they'll send you a $15 check, making the deal work out to about a dollar an hour for you. Hoooray?

          • by theNAM666 (179776)

            Read the other posts in this thread, whydon'tcha, like the woman who opted out of a $200 Toyota settlement and won $10K instead.

            The point is that you wouldn't sue for the $15, which is the reduced bulk rate that the firm filing a CLA is willing to accept.

            In this case I'd probably file for 18 months service costs ($900 or so), and some amount up to treble damages, so potentially, $3600 or so. I'd typically be glad to settle for 2/3 or so of that.

            Personally, it would take me an hour or two to send th

    • by cvtan (752695)
      My brother lost $10k due to an improper risky investment by Morgan Stanley. There was a class action suit which Morgan Stanley lost. My brother got a check for $3 and the lawyers made millions. He tore up the check.
      • by DavidD_CA (750156)

        Every time I've been invited to take part in a class action lawsuit, I was sent a postcard saying I had a right to withdraw from the suit and take up my own claim against the company.

        If your brother was so upset about the $3 payout, which was likely announced on that postcard, why didn't he tear the postcard up instead and file his own claim?

        • by theNAM666 (179776)

          I think the OP was lying, and was just about to pass it by.

          I know of no such CAL against Morgan Stanley, and have followed the news. Certainly there could be something small I don't know about, but...

          $3 is a ridiculously small payout on a $10K loss, especially considering treble damages. To keep making the point I've made in other threads: when we're talking about something substantive and tangible and reasonably large, not your VCR rebooting on 3rd Thursdays (yes, that was essentially the jist o

  • Small claims (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:30PM (#39085917)
    Can I do what the woman did against Toyota a few weeks ago and sue them on my own in small claims court (unlike the class who received $200, she received almost $8000)? Can I use the evidence presented during the class action in my own case? I didn't join the class action myself.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      It's worth a try. I believe the only thing at risk is the filing fee.

    • by CSHARP123 (904951)
      it was against Honda. Not Toyota. Here is the link http://finance.yahoo.com/news/woman-sues-honda-unlikely-place-195014842.html/ [yahoo.com]
    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      Yes. A million times, yes. And one more time, yes. At least some around here, get it.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Problem is that the amount you get depends on the losses you can prove. A bumper and maybe some loss of the cool sleek looks is apparently worth $15, seemingly ignoring the fact that the phone no longer fits many docks. If you had such a dock you could add the cost of a replacement to the amount claimed. You would also get expenses, but you don't really win anything there since they are things you paid out on.

      Your only hope of making significant cash is to show financial loss due to the problem. Dropped cal

  • Well thanks guys, but come on. $15 or a free bumper? After 18+ months?

    I already got my free bumper just after I got my iPhone 4. It was, and still is, a piece of shit. It completely ruined the look and feel/smoothness of the phone, messed up the top jack so that the audio aux out to my car was useless and made getting the phone out of my pocket a nightmare. After a few days I ripped it off my iPhone and literally threw it out the window of my car in a fit of rage. It's in a ditch on the side of a country ro

    • by schnikies79 (788746) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @12:36PM (#39085953)

      Thanks for littering, asshole.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The $200 fine you deserve for littering should offset whatever you feel you're entitled to from Apple. So it's even.

      Fair?

    • Well thanks guys, but come on. $15 or a free bumper? After 18+ months?

      Message from Apple to you: Fuck you very much :-)

  • file a small claims case for the price of your phone... you will likely win since they have admitted they were wrong by settling.

    • by afabbro (33948)
      To wit, a woman chose not to join a CAL against Honda and took them to small claims court. Instead of $100 and a $1000 credit towards a new Honda, she won $9,867. [yahoo.com]
  • Let us just take 21 million customers (as indicated in the article) for calculation puposes. They are making around $500 bucks on each of the phone according to http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/06/apple-maintains-big-margins-on-iphone-4s-according-to-ubm-analysis// [bgr.com]BGR. Now they have to pay what $300 Million. WOW nice go
    • What Apple may or may not have made selling the iPhone is irrelevant to this case. What counts are the actual damages. Seems about right.

  • I thought it was decided that the iPhone was first and foremost a network device, and just incidentally a phone. At least, that's what many owners are telling me now, so they all seem to have gotten the same memo.

    If the iPhone is not primarily a phone, it could be argued that some issues in that area are to be expected. Apple should have stuck it out and established a precedent.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Idiots who add the postfix Gate to everything should be plain executed publicly. It sounds stupid, attempts to link whatever with a president conducting criminal activities (old story), and doesn't add any value. Like if these things were comparable or even on the same scale of importance. It's just smokes and mirrors for retards - which seem to have arrived to Slashdot as well it seems.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm getting so tired of seeing -gate appended to every issue. Just say "antenna issues" or something. Crying ZOMG ANTENNAGATE does nothing to actually help me remember which lawsuit we're talking about because my eyes start glazing over and I bet this won't be the last time there will be antenna troubles either.

    That and the issue is nowhere near as important or as shocking as the actual Watergate scandal. Stop it. All of you.

  • This is for alll of you Apple haters out there that cry "double standards" and to prove that, once and for all, Apple gets the same slap on the wrist as everybody else.

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@nOsPAM.gdargaud.net> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @01:38PM (#39086325) Homepage
    One that says: "I bought an iPhone without a working antenna and now I'm eagerly waiting for the next model" ?
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @01:43PM (#39086343)

    Class action suits over consumer electronics are basically an extortion scam (albeit a legal one) perpetrated by lawyers. It works as follow:

    1. Contact the media, announce a class action lawsuit demanding a huge amount of money over a "flaw" in a widely sold product.
    2. Contact the company, offer to settle for pennies on the dollar. The company nearly always settles, regardless of the merits, because it would cost more to fight the suit.
    3. The members of the class (i.e. the customers) get a pittance, often hardly enough to pay them for the time to fill out the paperwork.
    4. But the lawyer gets a slice of every one of those piddly little settlements, which adds up to a nice chunk of change for hardly any work.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • If you believe in conspiracies, then it may actually be one of Apple's own lawyers who initiated the suit.

      • by tgibbs (83782)

        You'd have to be very conspiracy-minded indeed to think that there are so few unethical lawyers around that Apple would need to invent some

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      You sir, clearly, have never worked at a class action firm.

      The risks and costs of such litigation are real and large. A failed case can cost a firm millions. Hundreds of thousands are often spent researching cases that go nowhere. Very few lawyers get filthy rich, as opposed to standard compensation, from CALs.

      • by tgibbs (83782)

        Yeah, right. Research for what? To discover that the iPhone's signal is weakened when you hold it a certain way? Like every other such personal electronics class action suit I've heard of, the "flaw" was already public knowledge when the suit was filed. But I guess that I shouldn't be surprised that exaggerated costs are part of the scam. No wonder the settlement to the individual class member almost always turns out to be not worth the time it takes to fill out the paperwork. Not if the law firm is taking

        • by theNAM666 (179776)

          You obviously have no idea what a law firm does.

          In addition to the technical resources, you have to do legal research, often tons of it. Junior associates have to show up at 5 and stay until 10 to get this done, often under deadline-- and the firm competes to find people capable of that (most burn out within a year or two). These costs come right out of the firms' pocket, long before any chance of profits.

          Running a large class-action is not a slam-dunk process by any means. It can often require the

  • You know, speaking as an Apple Fanboi, I'll admit they made a goof with the antenna design. While maybe not "bad" (or worse than its competitors) there was clearly a design flaw and it could've been better.

    That's (one of the reasons) why I waited for the 4S.

    They fixed that problem and added some new features. I'm sure there will never again be an obvious antenna flaw on any Apple iProduct. Isn't that right Siri?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm clearly missing something here. Didn't Apple voluntarily offer up a free bumbler or (even better than $15) a full no questions asked refund to anyone that felt they had a problem!?!?!?!? This was done almost immediately after the 4 issue was uncovered.

    So some dumb (or brilliant depending on your perspective) lawyers charged millions in fees to accomplish a "settlement" that's even less generous than what Apple offered up voluntarily? God bless America.

  • Most owners were going to replace it when the next one came out anyway.

  • mine's in India.
    sold it with the free case i got from apple.

    who the hell didn't take them up on it when it was offered the first time around?

    IMO the case I got then was better than Apple's bumper (which was slow shipping at the time) anyway.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:30PM (#39087471)
    I'm still puzzled by the urge to put "gate" at the end of any type of scandal or conspiracy.

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