Apple Says Amended Pleading in M1 Laptop Defect Case is Still Unactionable

A motion filed late last week by defendant Apple Inc. argued that there are multiple reasons for the court overseeing the product defect suit to dismiss it, this time with prejudice. Apple says that despite the plaintiffs’ myriad contentions, there is nothing legally actionable about the claimed screen defect that allegedly plagues certain M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro models.

The plaintiffs asserted that the impacted laptops, model year 2020 or later 13.3-inch M1 MacBook Air or M1 MacBook Pro, suffered from flimsy screens that easily crack, black out, show color, or stop working completely. The operative complaint seeks relief from purported violations of state deceptive trade practice and false advertising laws, various forms of common law fraud, and for quasi-contract/unjust enrichment for a total of 17 claims.

In May, Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed the plaintiffs’ first complaint for failure to meet the federal pleading requirements. The court cautioned the plaintiffs to redraft their complaint carefully, with an eye towards Apple’s dismissal arguments.

As part of their refreshed efforts, the plaintiffs retained an expert to compare M1 MacBooks to previous models, specifically to assess design differences and the cause of their alleged dysfunction. For its part, Apple criticizes the expert’s testimony, first pointing out that it comes without an affidavit, declaration, or report. According to Apple, the expert’s analysis also failed to delve into other possible causes of the screen issues and “appears to simply assume that the myriad of symptoms was caused by the design changes.”

Substantively, Apple says that the plaintiffs still fail to plead a defect and explain how “a single design defect impacts two different products with two different designs.” Honing in on their fraud-based claims, Apple argues that there is nothing in the plaintiffs’ complaint showing that it knew about the defect when the plaintiffs purchased their computers nor any allegation that Apple owed the plaintiffs a duty to disclose. 

In addition to their fraud-by-omission claims, Apple says the plaintiffs’ fraud by affirmative misrepresentation claims fail to hold water. In their revised pleading, the plaintiffs neither identify any new misrepresentations nor explain how they were false when made, the motion says.

Apple concludes that no claim can be saved and, in turn, urges Judge Chhabria to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The hearing is scheduled for September 29 in San Francisco, Calif.

Bursor & Fisher P.A. and Migliaccio & Rathod LLP represent the plaintiffs and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP represents Apple.