Apple, AT&T slammed in lawsuits over iPhone 4 antenna issues

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) were both sued in federal court by iPhone 4 customers who claim the companies knowingly sold them a defective product. 

The separate suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland and in San Francisco, claim the two companies violated their warranty policies, and come just six days after the phone's debut. The Maryland suit alleges the companies committed a host of other offenses, including general negligence, fraud, deceptive trade practices and misrepresentation.

Apple has faced a barrage of criticism over the iPhone 4 since it launched last week to a record 1.7 million sales in its first three days. Concerns center on the phone's antenna and reception issues customers have experienced when holding the device a certain way. Some antenna experts have said that holding the device in a certain way can bridge the antennas in the stainless steel band that goes around the phone.

"Plaintiffs are left with a device that cannot be used for the normal purpose and in the normal manner in which such devices are intended to be used," read the lawsuit filed in Maryland, which is seeking class-action status. "Plaintiffs are unable to return the phone without incurring a substantial restocking fee."

The other suit took a similar tack. "Apple's sale of the iPhone with this unannounced defect, assuming Apple's prior knowledge of the defect, constitutes misrepresentation and fraud," Christopher Dydyk of Cambridge, Mass., said in his complaint, filed in San Francisco. "In omitting to disclose the defect in the iPhone 4, Apple perpetrated a massive fraud upon hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting customers."

Apple has responded to the antenna issue by recommending that customers hold the iPhone 4 in a different way or purchase a case for the device. Dydyk asked Apple to ship its own case, a rubber "bumper," for free to consumers who pre-ordered an iPhone 4, or that the company be forced to pay for customers' bumpers.

Representatives from Apple and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Apple and AT&T faced a series of lawsuits following the debut of the iPhone 3G in 2008 that faulted the companies for poor cellular signal strength.

For more:
- see this Gizmodo post
- see this Computerworld article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this AllThingsD post

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