Ap­ple sued over al­leged screen de­fect in­Watches

The Mercury News Weekend - - BUSINESS - By Se­ung Lee slee@ba­yare­anews­group.com

A Colorado man has sued Ap­ple in San Jose, al­leg­ing the com­pany sold know­ingly de­fec­tive Watches in which the screen could shat­ter or pop out fromthe body, some­times only days af­ter they were pur­chased.

Kenneth Sci­acca filed his law­suit with the U. S. Dis­trict Court for North­ern Cal­i­for­nia against the Cu­per­tino tech gi­ant on Mon­day, al­leg­ing that all four gen­er­a­tions of Ap­ple Watch have the same screen de­fect and that Ap­ple “has ac­tively con­cealed and failed to dis­close the de­fect.”

“Ap­ple’s con­duct, when con­fronted with the de­fect, in­di­cates that its in­ter­nal pol­icy is to deny the ex­is­tence of the de­fect, claim the de­fect is the re­sult of ‘ac­ci­den­tal dam­age’ caused by con­sumers, and then refuse to honor its limited war­ranty on those grounds,” the law­suit al­leges. “With­out limited war­ranty cov­er­age, con­sumers are forced to in­cur the sig­nif­i­cant ex­pense of re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing their de­fec­tive Watches.”

Sci­acca is su­ing Ap­ple on six counts — three of which al­lege Ap­ple’s breach of war­ranty. He demands $5 mil- lion in resti­tu­tion from the com­pany. Sci­acca also seeks class-ac­tion sta­tus to be able to in­clude any­one in the United States who pur­chased any of the four Ap­ple Watch mod­els.

Sci­acca is rep­re­sented by the San Fran­cisco-based law firm Shep­herd, Finkel­man, Miller & Shah. Kolin Tang, who is rep­re­sent­ing Sci­acca in this case, did not re­spond

to a re­quest for com­ment.

Ap­ple also did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Sci­acca pur­chased an Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2 on or about De­cem­ber 1, 2016, from an autho­rized Ap­ple store in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On or around March 9, 2018, Sci­acca’s Watch screen be­came de­tached from the body af­ter he re­moved the watch from its charger, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

Ap­ple Store em­ploy­ees who ex­am­ined the Watch said that the de­tach­ment was be­cause of “non-war­rantable dam­age” rather than a swollen bat­tery — which­would have been cov- ered by Ap­ple’s war­ranty. They quoted Sci­acca a $249 re­pair fee, which Sci­acca de­clined, the law­suit states.

“At all per­ti­nent times, Sci­acca main­tained his Watch as rec­om­mended by Ap­ple,” reads the law­suit. “Sci­acca’s Watch was in like-new con­di­tion, with no scratches on the screen or dam­age to the body.”

In the law­suit, Sci­acca al­leges that he was not the only Ap­ple Watch owner frus­trated by the de­fect and Ap­ple’s re­sponse. The law­suit cites 16 com­ments listed in Ap­ple’s Com­mu­ni­ties fo­rumshar­ing the own­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ences of their Ap­ple Watch screen fall­ing out, say­ing the in­ter­net is “re­plete” with sim­i­lar in­stances.

“Own­ers of de­fec­tive Ap­ple Watches are faced with un­en­vi­able — and ex­pen- sive — options,” reads the law­suit. “They can pay over $200 to re­pair an al­ready ex­pen­sive Watch; they can pur­chase Ap­pleCare+ for at least $49 (and then pay an ad­di­tional $69 ser­vice fee for each in­ci­dent); they can pur­chase a new Ap­ple Watch; or they can sim­ply not use their Watch. Un­der any op­tion, con­sumers must ei­ther pay more for the con­tin­ued use of an al­ready ex­pen­sive Watch or be de­prived of its use en­tirely.”

Since launch­ing Ap­ple Watch in 2015, Ap­ple re­peat­edly had to ex­tend war­ranties on mul­ti­ple Watch mod­els due to a swollen bat­tery de­fect. In April 2017, Ap­ple ex­tended its war­ranty for the first­gen­er­a­tionWatches ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bat­tery is­sues from one year to three years. A year later, Ap­ple of­fered the same war­ranty ex­ten­sions to se­lect Watch Se­ries 2 mod­els with bat­tery is­sues.

Ap­ple Watch war­ranties ex­tended be­yond bat­tery is­sues, how­ever. In July 2017, Ap­ple be­gan re­pair­ing first­gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple Watches for free if the de­vice’s back cover sep­a­rated from the watch body — but not the front screen.

“A rea­son­able con­sumer ex­pects and as­sumes that, when he/she pur­chases an Ap­ple Watch pur­port­edly de­signed for ac­tive wear and use, the Watch screen will not spon­ta­neously crack, de­tach, or shat­ter when it is being used­within its nor­mal and/or ex­pected range of op­er­a­tion,” the law­suit states.

KARL MONDON — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

A Colorado man is seek­ing class-ac­tion sta­tus and $5mil­lion in resti­tu­tion in a law­suit against tech gi­ant Ap­ple. The law­suit al­leges that Ap­ple know­ingly sold de­fec­tive Watches.

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