The lawsuit covers anyone who bought a MacBook with a Butterfly Keyboard in seven states: California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington and Michigan.
This includes people who bought MacBook models between 2015 and 2017, MacBook Pro models between 2016 and 2019, or MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019.
Judge (Edward Davila) approved the case in seven subcategories on March 8 in California, but the matter remained classified until late last week.
The order raises the stakes for a lawsuit that was first filed in 2018, three years after Apple added the controversial Butterfly keyboard to its laptops.
The butterfly keyboard was thinner than the previous Apple design, which used industry-standard scissor keys.
But many disaffected MacBook users found that refurbished Apple’s keyboard malfunctioned when small dust particles accumulated around the keys.
This resulted in sticky keys, failure to record keystrokes, or multiple strokes with one click.
Apple has modified the Butterfly keyboard several times, but abandoned it in 2020 after continuing complaints.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple had known for years that this design was flawed and that its increasing changes had not solved the underlying problem.
The lawsuit cites internal communications within Apple, including the executive, who wrote that no matter how much mod you try to put in place, it’s still bad.
Prosecutors accuse Apple of violating several laws in the seven states listed, including the California Unfair Competition Act, the Deceptive and Unfair Business Practices Act in Florida, and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
Prosecutors aren’t requesting nationwide certification at this time, but the law firm behind the lawsuit has invited any affected US MacBook buyer to complete the survey.
Apple disputed the class-action affidavit, saying the standard lawsuit should not cover multiple modifications to the butterfly keyboard, but plaintiffs have successfully argued that all Butterfly keyboards may face the same basic problems due to their design and narrow gaps between the keys.
And Apple has to argue later that these basic features did not make the design unreliable and that it did not spend years knowingly making defective keyboards.