Two class action lawsuits fired at Apple over M1 MacBook cracked screen allegations

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) Side View
(Image credit: Future)

Apple is the target of a pair of freshly filed class action lawsuits around the issue of M1-powered MacBooks and their alleged susceptibility to cracks on the screen (an issue which came to light at the start of August).

As spotted by Tom’s Hardware, 9to5 Mac reported on a law firm in the US, Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, lining up a suit over this last week, which was filed in California on September 14. And now a second firm of lawyers, Bursor & Fisher, has also just filed a suit (again in California) on that very same day (Tuesday just gone).

The broad accusation is that Apple is knowingly selling MacBook Air and Pro notebooks (with M1 processors) which have displays that are prone to cracking during normal usage due to the ‘thin design’ of these machines.

While some users have had such issues resolved by Apple with no charge, as 9to5 Mac observes, in other cases, these faults aren’t corrected without a hefty bill for repairs (as you might imagine where a screen replacement is involved).

Migliaccio & Rathod LLP observes: “Many users allege that they have opened their devices from the closed position without applying any undue pressure, only to find dramatic cracks in the retina display, often accompanied by black bars running across the screen.

“Others report that the crack followed a simple adjustment of the screen’s viewing angle. In none of these cases would a reasonable consumer expect such activity to damage their device, let alone cause a screen crack that impairs its functionality.”

The law firm adds: “Unfortunately, Apple’s customer service has not been receptive to these grievances. Users complain that Apple representatives insist the culprit is a small item or particle that gets lodged between the keyboard and screen upon its closing, even when that explanation runs completely counter to users’ experiences.”

In the second suit, Bursor & Fisher states: “The M1 MacBook is defective, as the screens are extraordinarily fragile, cracking, blacking out, or showing magenta, purple and blue lines and squares, or otherwise ceasing to function altogether.”

It further observes: “Thousands of users from across the globe have reported this issue directly to Apple and on Apple sponsored forums. Nonetheless, consumers who have attempted to secure replacements or repairs have been rebuffed by Apple, often forced to pay out of pocket upwards of between $600 and $850 for repairs themselves or to secure replacements without Apple’s assistance.”

Bursor & Fisher also adds that some MacBook owners who’ve had a repair have seen the problem happen again, and that’s supposedly true for those who have had their machine replaced as well in some cases.

Migliaccio & Rathod LLP echoes the sentiment that even after a repair has been paid for, there’s no guarantee that “the screen crack defect won’t reoccur at a later date”.

Analysis: Stepping up a gear

The fact that a pair of lawsuits have now been fired off against Apple on the same day earlier this week certainly represents these cracked display complaints seriously stepping up a gear.

What’s clear is that there are a lot of anecdotal reports online of folks who are certainly frustrated to have their display develop this problem, claiming it’s through no fault of their own, and that the crack appeared suddenly in the course of everyday usage (without the notebook being mishandled in any way). Some say they’ve been able to get the repair paid for by Apple, and others say they’ve been charged for the work.

At any rate, gathering together complaints under the umbrellas of two separate class action lawsuits will doubtless help to focus Apple’s attention on this matter, and it’ll be interesting to watch the MacBook maker’s reaction to this.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).