Tuesday's filing was brought by four named plaintiffs who bought a variety of Apple products, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 5s and iPad, and installed the then-latest version of the company's mobile operating system — the iOS 8 — developed exclusively for its devices.
They told U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila in a heavily redacted memorandum in support of their class certification motion Tuesday that each consumer's allegations rested on the same fundamental claim: Apple tricked them into buying and paying higher prices based on the promise of 16 gigabytes of storage space by leaving out that the iOS 8, which automatically downloads several new applications, took up a significant amount of space after installation.
The four plaintiffs said they want certification of two classes: one group consisting of consumers who bought 16-gigabyte mobile devices from Apple with iOS 8 already installed and a second group comprising people who bought the devices that had an older version of iOS but later installed iOS 8. Consumers said they believe the classes encompass "many thousands of individuals."
Each class member suffered the same harm premised on the same alleged misrepresentations and omissions by Apple about its purported 16-gigabyte devices' storage capacities, Tuesday's memo states. In 2014 and 2015, when the company released the iOS 8 system, each user had to install the updated software, which they alleged took up about 3 gigabytes of storage.
Tuesday's memo stems from a proposed class action filed in 2014, which was later amended, alleging that Apple's iPhones, iPads and iPods were advertised by the company as being equipped with 16 or 8 gigabytes of storage, but the devices didn't have that capacity because the iOS 8 used an "unexpectedly large" amount of storage space.
In March 2018, Judge Davila dismissed the amended complaint because the consumers didn't specify which statement from Apple misled them. A second amended suit followed, which the judge dismissed again in November 2018 on the grounds that the plaintiffs still didn't address the lack of specificity that caused the dismissal of the previous complaint.
On May 5, 2020, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the judge's dismissal, ruling that the consumers' complaint "furnishes ample notice of the conduct challenged as deceptive: Apple's representation that its devices offered 16 GB of storage capacity," and leaving out that the iOS update would take up space.
On Tuesday, the consumers said the proposed classes meet certification requirements, noting that everyone suffered the same harm arising from the same questions of fact and law.
Those questions that apply to each class member include whether Apple's representations or omissions were material and misleading, whether a reasonable consumer would understand that 16 gigabytes was not actually available for personal use as advertised, whether Apple knew its representations were misleading and had a duty to disclose it, and whether the buyers overpaid for the devices and are entitled to damages.
The named plaintiffs said their claims against Apple are typical of the class, as the packaging on each product in question that described the storage capacity was uniform, the consumers said. The amount of space iOS 8 took up in the class devices was about the same for each, the consumers added.
"The fundamental claim of this action is that the members of the class, including plaintiffs, were deceived into purchasing (and paying a higher price for) the devices based on the promise of 16 GB available for their personal use," the memo states.
The consumers' claims under California's unfair competition, false advertising and consumer protection laws can also be applied and adjudicated on a nationwide class basis, the memo added, noting that Apple's iOS Software License Agreement states that any claims against the company must be brought under California law and Apple is based in California.
Damages can also be calculated on a classwide basis, the consumers added.
The memo also asks Judge Davila to appoint Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC, Audet & Partners LLP, Baron & Herskowitz, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP and Halunen & Associates as class counsel.
A hearing date on the certification motion is scheduled for July 14.
Counsel for the proposed class and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Apple is represented by Matthew D. Powers and Andrew J. Weisberg of O'Melveny & Myers LLP.
The consumers are represented by attorneys with Audet & Partners LLP, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP, Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, Halunen & Associates and Baron & Herskowitz.
The case is Paul Orshan et al. v. Apple Inc., case number 5:14-cv-05659, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.