$18m FaceTime Class Action Settlement Submitted for Approval

On April 27, an $18 million settlement was submitted for preliminary approval in a three-year property damage suit between plaintiffs Christina Grace and Ken Potter, and defendant Apple, Inc. In an amended complaint filed on February 2, 2017, the plaintiffs alleged that their iPhone devices had diminished in value after the video-call software stopped working. The case is being held before Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California.

The plaintiffs originally alleged that on April 16, 2014, Apple intentionally broke its FaceTime video calling feature for iOS 6 and earlier operating systems. The court denied Apple’s motion for dismissal in July 2017 and in September 2018, it issued a class certification order that certified a class defined as “[a]ll owners of non-jailbroken Apple iPhone 4 or Apple iPhone 4S devices in California who on April 16, 2014, had iOS 6 or earlier operating systems.” The $18 million settlement awards monetary relief to every class member.

On February 6, both parties were officially notified that they had mutually accepted a mediator’s proposal after months of unsuccessful mediation sessions and settlement conferences. Tasked with determining “aggregate class-wide damages” for the class members’ iPhones, Dr. Justine Hastings created a financial model determining that “Apple’s conduct impacted the prices by, on average, $18.30 per device.” Prior to reaching a settlement, Apple had filed a motion to exclude Dr. Hasting’s testimony, which has yet to be ruled on by the court. In that motion, Apple alleged Dr. Hastings’ calculations “inflated damages by focusing on the ‘B to B’ market rather than the consumer market.”

Under the proposed agreement, “The number of payments to each participating Settlement Class Member will be calculated based on each Settlement Class Member’s proportional share of the Net Settlement Fund” of $18 million, minus costs, and fees.

The plaintiffs are represented by Steyer Lowenthal Boodrookas Alvarez & Smith, among others. A motion hearing is scheduled for September 3.