Sony Sued Over Defective Camera Shutters Rendering Cameras “Unusable”

On Friday, a consumer filed a class-action complaint in the Southern District of New York against Sony Electronics Inc. for the purported shutter defects on the a7iii camera, the “‘vanguard of the mirrorless camera movement’” and for allegedly denying warranty claims in violation of various laws.

According to the complaint, the a7iii, a mirrorless camera is “smaller, lighter, and more durable than its (digital single-lens reflex camera) DSLR counterpart, which contributes to its higher cost.” However, the plaintiff averred that the a7iii has “mechanical problems with the shutter (that) have rendered the cameras unusable (to purchasers) provided they do not pay over $500 for repair to an authorized service center.”

In particular, issues with the a7iii’s shutter include that while its life expectancy is 200,000 actuations, “numerous users report shutter failures … between 10,000 and 50,000 for most of the users who experienced this.” The plaintiff claimed that shutter failures often occur outside of the one-year warranty, purportedly causing purchasers to pay $500-$650 for shutter repairs or replacements in addition to the $2,000 it cost to purchase the camera in the first place. Moreover, according to the plaintiff, the shutter failures occur in a predictable way: “(p)rior to shutter failure, users report hearing an atypical shutter sound, followed by the screen turning black and displaying the following message: ‘Camera Error. Turn off then on.’” However, the plaintiff contended that these steps often do not resolve the problem and removing and reinserting the battery is also futile.

The plaintiff proffered that “(w)hen a user removes the lens, the shutter is closed and stuck. In most instances the shutter has become detached.” Reportedly, there are some explanations for this failure, namely, “the shutter blade catches on the front edge as it moves down in taking a picture … because the blades are positioned farther forward, so they ‘catch’ and fail to fully clear.” Additionally, the plaintiff pointed to the fragile materiality of the front curtain shutter and that the shutter “is unusually susceptible to disruption by small particles, even dust, which can cause the blades (to be) out of alignment.” The plaintiff claimed that as a preventative measure some users are turning off the electronic front curtain shutter (EFCS); however, the EFCS is “one of the main reasons for purchasing the a7iii and having to refrain from using it diminishes the camera’s utility and value.” Users also purportedly experience other issues with the camera. The plaintiff added that these issues are likely to reoccur and trying to fix it for oneself “will have any warranty claim denied for having caused ‘physical damage’ in attempting to fix the shutter failure.”

The putative class consists of “all citizens of New York who purchased the a7iii cameras.”

The claims against Sony include violation of the New York General Business Law; negligent misrepresentation; breach of express warranty, implied warranty of merchantability and Magnuson Moss Warranty Act; fraud; and unjust enrichment.

The plaintiff seeks class certification and for the plaintiff and his counsel to represent the class; an injunction; an award for damages, costs, and fees; and other relief.

The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates P.C.