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B.C. Supreme Court approves $14.4-million settlement of iPhone class-action lawsuit

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Supreme Court has approved a countrywide multimillion-dollar settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Apple over software updates that allegedly slowed down older iPhones.

"We're pleased with the results," said K.S. Garcha, a lawyer for the class. "It was a complex matter."

Garcha said in an interview that the judge in the case approved the settlement at a hearing Tuesday.

Class members who make claims on the $14.4-million settlement can expect to receive between $17.50 and $150 each, depending on how many people submit a claim for the settlement money, he said.

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The agreement covers eligible residents of Canada except those in Quebec, which Garcha said is about nine million people.

The settlement process took a couple of years, with Apple agreeing to a "compromise" without admitting any wrongdoing, Garcha said.

Going to trial rather than settling could've taken "a long period of time," he said.

"The court may not approve some of the claims that you're making, there's an issue with regards to how the damages were quantified, there are potential appeals, he said.

The company "vigorously defended the thing up until the settlement negotiations," Garcha added.

He said the class-action lawsuit involved novel legal theories about the company putting software on devices without the owners' consent.

People who owned iPhone models covered by the settlement have six months to make a claim, and the online process requires a person's name, address and iPhone serial number.

People also have to declare under oath that they downloaded or installed certain software updates on a variety of iPhone 6 and 7 models before Dec. 21, 2017.

They would have also had to have "experienced diminished performance on that device after the relevant iOS version was installed or downloaded."

The settlement agreement with Apple will see the company pay out between $11,137,500 and $14,427,500 depending on how many claims are made and approved.

The claims website for the "Canadian iPhone Power Management Class Action," says Quebec residents are excluded from the settlement because there's a separate, ongoing case before the courts in that province.

The B.C. lawsuit was originally filed in 2018, and Apple settled a similar case in the United States involving so-called throttling of iPhone 6 and 7 models, and Garcha said American class members ended up with US$92 payouts.

At a hearing in Vancouver in late January, Apple's lawyer Jill Yates told the court the company has never admitted wrongdoing.

"Apple, throughout, has taken a position that it has done nothing wrong here," she said. "These claims are novel and they are not ones where Apple agrees that anything was wrongfully done."

The company did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the settlement approval.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.

The Canadian Press