Apple agrees to pay $53 million in class-action suit regarding faulty moisture indicators

Liquid Contact Indicator

Apple has today agreed to settle a long-standing class-action lawsuit with consumers over its AppleCare warranty service for the sum of $53 million. The suit, which was filed back in 2010, has to do with the company’s policy on servicing liquid-damaged products.

In the filing, consumers claimed that the LCIs (liquid contact indicators) in older iOS devices were faulty, causing them to falsely signal that a gadget had been damaged by water. And Apple would deny customer warranty claims based on these defective indicators…

Bloomberg reports:

“Apple Inc (AAPL). agreed to pay $53 million to resolve a consumer class-action lawsuit alleging the company relied on faulty indicators showing that iPhones and iPods were exposed to water to deny customers’ warranty claims.

Lawyers for consumers say the liquid submersion indicators on iPhones and iPods could be triggered by moisture during ordinary use and falsely indicated devices had been damaged by liquid spills or submersion, problems that were excluded from coverage under Apple’s warranty.”

According to documents filed in federal court in San Francisco, consumers may be eligible for up to $300, depending on the device model they owned. And attorneys can seek as much as 30% of the $53 million settlement fund to help cover their fees and expenses.

So who’s elegible? Customers whose warranty claims for iPhones were denied before Dec. 31, 2009 on the basis of Apple’s liquid damage policy can seek restitution, as can those with iPod Touches that were denied before June 2010. The settlement is pending court approval.

Apple maintains that there was never anything wrong with its LCI strips. But it has relaxed its warranty policy involving liquid contact indicators in the last few years, and has even stopped including them in some products. iPhone 5 still has one though, in the SIM slot.