Healey not saying why she didn’t join Apple lawsuit

Settlement over ‘batterygate’ nets 33 states $113m

ATTORNEY GENERAL Maura Healey is refusing to say why she never joined a large coalition of attorneys general who sued Apple and recently won a $113 million legal settlement, which probably would have netted the state millions of dollars.

A Healey spokeswoman declined to provide any information on the attorney general’s reasoning.

The settlement, in which Apple admitted no wrongdoing in connection with battery problems on iPhones produced between 2014 and 2016, calls for $24.6 million to go to Apple’s home state of California, $7.5 million to Texas, and $5 million to Arizona.

The amount going to each state is based on the number of iPhone users in that state.  Since Massachusetts residents are historically among the highest users of iPhones, it is likely that, if Healey had participated in the litigation, Massachusetts’ share of the settlement money would have been substantial.

The coalition, which consisted of a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 33 states and the District of Columbia, alleged in lawsuits that Apple discovered that battery issues were causing the unexpected crashing of older iPhones.

Rather than informing its customers of the problem or replacing the batteries, Apple concealed the problem from them, according to the coalition of attorneys general. The AGs alleged that Apple tweaked its software to slow down the performance of the phones to avoid phone-crashing power spikes. The slower performance prompted customers to buy millions of new iPhones, according to the complaint filed against Apple.

The states alleged that Apple’s actions violated state consumer protection laws that make unfair and deceptive acts illegal. Massachusetts has a similar law.

The controversy, first reported in July, became known as “batterygate.” Arizona filed its complaint against Apple on November 18, the same date the settlement was disclosed.

Edgar Dworsky, the founder of ConsumerWorld.org and a former assistant attorney general, said he is troubled by Healey not joining her peers from other states in the iPhone litigation.

“Unless she is planning on bringing her own lawsuit against Apple at this late date, she let millions of dollars just slip through her fingers — money that could have greatly benefited Massachusetts consumers by providing, for example, better funding for local consumer programs across the Commonwealth,” he said.

Apple also recently entered into a proposed class action settlement related to the same conduct.  Under that settlement, Apple will pay up to $500 million in restitution to consumers. Massachusetts consumers are eligible to apply for that money.