Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Proving how it works!

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Abstract

One recent legal dispute that has arisen has been the battle over the new iPhone batteries. While merging two popular products, the iPod and cellular telephone, Apple and AT&T recently emerged with a revolutionary new product that has had consumers, critics, and industry leaders on the edge of their seats since the first press release. Unfortunately while some are ecstatic about the design and implementation of the hybrid device, some consumers are up in arms about the battery life of the portable product, leading to multiple lawsuits.

Shortly after the launch of the iPhone on June 29th, consumer reports and complaints were heard around the industry about a problem that has plagued other Apple devices such as the iPod. Consumers and watchdog groups were concerned that the battery life of the new device would be insufficient and force the consumer to send in their phone annually for replacement batteries. The new iPhone has a built in battery that is common place fore iPods, but many analysts assumed that Apple would provide a detachable user serviceable batter instead of a permanently enclosed power source.

According to the website Gizmodo.com, The Plaintiff Jose Trujullo is attempting a class action suit against both the equipment and service provider based on the concept that consumers were not informed about the sealed battery unit that is uncommon amongst cellular telephones. In particular, the Plaintiff claims that the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and that both defendants were “unjustly enriched”. Ultimately the plaintiff affirms that after 300 “charges” of the unit it must be sent back to the manufacturer for reconditioning at a cost to the consumer (Trujullo).

Despite subsequent claims of the manufacturer, over 400 “charges” of the unit are to be expected in the average life cycle of the unit. Interestingly enough, at time of filing, of the suit, the user could not have possibly have even charged and drained the battery 300 times to incur such a cost. In addition, the manufacturer claims that 400 “charges” of the device constitute a full charging and draining of the battery once a month, making the life expectancy of the battery much longer than the daily cycle the plaintiff claims, extending the potential life of the unit to 33 years, and not slight under a years as the plaintiff asserts (Diaz).

Other interesting facts about the case are that both the service provider and the equipment manufacturer are both named as defendants. The true question is if there is a true design defect in the equipment. If in fact this is the case, that the entire supply chain could be held liable based on Strict Liability. This would include both the equipment and service providers. If no design flaw exists, than the client simply has no case.

This case in question is a civil suit against both Apple and AT&T filed in Cook County Illinois. Because both plaintiffs operate in Illinois the jurisdiction seems appropriate, and the plaintiff is attempting to launch a class action suit on behalf of all applicable consumers. The suite is seeking punitive damages based upon the court’s recommendations. No other information could be located as to the status of the suit or if alternative dispute resolution would be utilized. If the case was filed as a criminal case the plaintiff would have the burden of proving substantial criminal actions such as fraud, and no punitive damages could be awarded even if a conviction was rendered.

Despite the plaintiff’s best efforts, there is a tough road ahead to go up against corporate giants like Apple and AT&T. If the case is allowed to proceed, more evidence will likely be required by the plaintiff to prove that not only he but all possible plaintiffs in the class suit are owed damages. The court will also need to determine appropriate damages and how they will be distributed amongst the plaintiffs if judgment is rendered.

Trujullo V. Apple Computer and AT&T. No. 07CH18744. Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. 20 Aug. 2007 http://gizmodo.com/photogallery/iphonelawsuit/2249601>.

Diaz, Jesus. "First IPhone Class-Action Suite." Gizmodo. 27 July 2007. 20 Aug. 2007 <http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/breaking/first-iphone- class+action-suit-against-apple-and-att-283280.php>.

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