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Consumer lawsuit against Apple in Calif. federal court over new cable

A class action lawsuit was filed in November 2013 against Apple, Inc., alleging that its new connecting cable called Lightning is a defective product that is harming consumers. Rendell Roman, a California resident, filed his suit in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, requesting that the case be certified as a class action representing millions of consumers nationwide who have purchased faulty connectors from Apple.

The complaint's allegations

The complaint in Roman v. Apple, Inc. cites voluminous evidence of problems with the Lightning cable, an Apple cord released in September 2012 as the exclusive way to charge, connect and synchronize several Apple devices, including the well known iPhone 5. The plaintiff believes there are at least 2 million potential class members harmed by their purchases of the Lightning in conjunction with Apple devices.

Roman charges that Lightning cables are advertised and promoted as reliable, well designed connectors, but that they in fact have been and are faulty and even dangerous when used as anticipated by customers. For example, the complaint alleges that the current connection is hard to maintain, making charging of devices difficult or impossible; and that the wires deteriorate and become twisted and frayed, sometimes to the point of causing smoke and fire.

Apple defective Lightning cable lawsuit

According to the complaint, the only remedy for someone who purchased a faulty cable is to buy a replacement from Apple, as there are no other manufacturers of connectors that work with Apple's devices because Apple has embedded technology that prevents other cables from working.

Replacement Lightning cords cost $19.99 or $29.99 and consumers on the Internet have reported having to buy several replacements in a short time, says the lawsuit.

The legal claims

The suit brings seven causes of action under both California state and federal consumer protection laws:

  • Violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act or CLRA by engaging in deceptive practices
  • Violation of California statutes by engaging in false and misleading advertising
  • Violation of California's Unfair Competition Law by engaging in unfair and fraudulent business practices
  • Violation of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or MMWA, the main federal warranty law that protects consumers, by breaching the implied warranty of merchantability because the cords should have been fit for their ordinary and expected uses
  • Breach of express warranty under California law
  • Unjust enrichment by the receipt of profits from sales of the defective Lightning cables

The seventh claim asks for a declaration by the court of the rights and responsibilities of the parties and an order that Apple be required to disclose the problems with the Lightning connector on packaging and in advertising.

The lawsuit requests several types of relief, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, legal fees, costs and more. The complaint also requests that the court order Apple to stop its false advertising about the Lightning; cease acts of unfair competition; and more.

Seek legal advice for consumer protection issues

Many interested people and entities will await the outcome of this class action lawsuit against Apple. In the meantime, if you are harmed by a product or service physically or financially, discuss the problem with an experienced consumer protection attorney who can advise you of your rights, legal remedies and potentially responsible parties.

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