A San Mateo County judge on Thursday approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that will allow as many as 1.3 million owners of iPod music players to replace defective batteries on maker Apple's tab.
The lawsuit, which affects consumers nationwide, alleged Apple failed to disclose battery limitations on its first three iPod models.
"All these people are going to get relief, and we think that's a big victory for them," said Steve Williams, lead counsel for the suit and an attorney for Burlingame's Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy.
Williams said that under the settlement, people who bought iPod's first two models are entitled to either $25 cash or a $50 credit at the Apple store. Or, if they paid Apple to repair an iPod battery, they are entitled to up to half of that cost back.
Owner of iPod's third model are entitled to free replacement battery if the battery fails.
The iPod has a rechargeable battery, one that users cannot replace themselves given the instrument's sleek design. The product advertised eight hours of play with a single charge, but users complained play time decreased gradually after months of use.
"When people were paying $250 to $500 for this, they deserve to know it's limitations," Williams said.
In December 2003, class-action suits began being filed all over the country. The case, coordinated before Judge Beth Labson Freeman in Redwood City,
The court said, based on the number of people continuing to make claims, the settlement has a minimum value of approximately $15 million, according to Williams.
Since the suit, Apple now discloses on the iPod's packaging the expectations about battery life.
Williams said consumers have up to May 2006 to file a claim to be entitled to the settlement.
Instructions on how to file can be found at http://www.appleipodsettlement.com.