Apple has agreed to pay $50 million in a class-action lawsuit filed by MacBook customers over faulty “butterfly” keyboards without admitting any wrongdoing, according to settlement documents reviewed by CNBC.
The lawsuit alleged that the company was aware that its butterfly keys were prone to failure but concealed this fact from the customers.
The proposed preliminary settlement, which still requires a judge’s approval, was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California on late Monday night.
For those unaware, the so-called “butterfly” keyboard was developed and introduced as an innovation with the 2015 12-inch MacBook, to make the laptops look thinner. However, Apple’s butterfly keyboards were prone to failure. Customers started complaining that certain keys would not register after being exposed to dirt or dust, while others reported that certain keys would register twice.
In 2019, Apple acknowledged the problem and apologized to its users for keyboard issues. It launched repair programs for its customers to get their keyboards repaired for free. The Cupertino giant also fixed most of the issues and brought a revamped Magic Keyboard starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro released in late 2019.
Under the proposed settlement, the eligible devices for payout include MacBook, MacBook Air, and most MacBook Pro models sold between 2015 and 2019. Only those customers who have replaced their MacBook keyboards or key caps at an Apple Store or authorized repair center will be eligible for payouts.
As part of the settlement, customers who had to replace their keyboards multiple times can expect payouts between $300 to $395. Those who had to place their keyboard once could receive $125, while those who obtained single key cap replacement could get $50, according to the filing.
Further, Apple will be handing money only to customers located in seven U.S. states, which are California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.
Law firms Girard Sharp LLP and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner and Donaldson-Smith LLP who represented the plaintiffs can claim up to $15 million from the $50 million settlement to cover legal fees.
Apple has yet to comment on the matter. The company has extended free keyboard repairs for four years after purchase to customers who bought MacBooks with butterfly keys.