More than 380,000 Koreans have joined class action lawsuits in protest of Apple’s international drop in the iPhone’s performance. This figure crushes the number of plaintiffs while filed the first lawsuit against Apple with the Consumers United for Consumer Sovereignty last week.
On January 15, Hannuri, a Korean law firm with a class action lawsuit against Apple over iPhone performance degradation, said on January 15 that litigation participants totaled 381,001 as of 9:54 am on January 12.
Law firm Hannuri is planning to ask Apple for compensation for damages at behalf of iPhone buyers (buyers of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus). The industry estimates that about 10 million units of the iPhone 6 series and 7 series were sold in Korea as of the end of last year. Law firm Hannuri and civic groups will continuing to invite litigators who will join their class action lawsuits, the sizes of class action lawsuits are expected to balloon.
Law firm Hannuri is already in talks with US law firms that filed similar class action lawsuits against Apple in the US. Now, in the US, this scandal is causing a firestorm not only with iPhone users’ class action lawsuits but with the Congress demanding a formal explanation about the so-called iPhone Gate from Apple.
Law firm Hanunri is in a position to steadily keep a close eye on overseas situations because trials in Korea may develop in similar manners if overseas precedents can work in favor of consumers. However, enough reviews are needed as it is unclear whether or not the US court will deal with such cases fairly when a US class action lawsuit against Apple proceeds in the American way.
It is expected that law firm Hannuri will begin to take concrete legal actions in February after going through this process. To this end, the law firm is planning to finish consultation and analysis within this month and finalize the lawsuit plan.
Even though Apple came up with a compensation plan to lower the battery replacement charge by US$50 along with an announcement to clarify its position about the controversy, "The compensation plan significantly fell short compared to the illegal nature of Apple's behaviors and the level of damage to customers, in particular, those who already chose to replace their iPhones with new ones,” Hannuri said.
Some civic groups are planning to consider pressing criminal charges against Apple and holding the three Korean major mobile carriers legally responsible. "If the mobile carriers sold products, knowing that iPhones had some problems, they are also responsible for the matter," said Koh Kyung-hyun, secretary general of the Consumers United for Consumer Sovereignty. “In Korea, Apple Korea is the subject of the iPhone in Korea but the three major Korean mobile carriers selling the iPhone Korea like sales agents. Therefore, we will thoroughly check the legal responsibilities such as whether or not the trio have not reported it to authorities although they were already aware of the problem." In fact, if a criminal charge proceeds, the results may affect civil litigation.