In an embarrassing defeat for Apple, a UK man has won a lawsuit against the company for erasing data on the iPhone 5 he brought in to an Apple Store for repair. The judge in the case found Apple had acted unreasonably, and that he is entitled to compensation for his lost photos, videos, contacts and other data.
Last December, Deric White, 68, of Pimlico, London, UK, brought his iPhone 5 to the Genius Bar of his local Apple Store after receiving a text message from the company that the device was malfunctioning. He left his phone at the store while he went to do some Christmas shopping, and when he returned, he was handed back his phone and told it was working properly.
The phone, however, had been factory reset, and all of White’s photos, videos, contacts and other data were permanently lost. White claims that he was only asked if he had backed up his data when the phone was returned and the information had already been lost. White explained that the reason he hadn’t backed up his data to the cloud was because he doesn’t like the “databank in the sky.”
White was most upset that the pictures from his recent honeymoon were deleted.
“My life was saved on that phone. I lost my favorite video of a giant tortoise biting my hand on honeymoon in the Seychelles,” he lamented. “All my contacts had gone and they had vandalized my phone. They knew they had done this and send me on my way. This is where my anger is, they sent me on my way like an imbecile,” complained White.
White initially demanded Apple reimburse him £10,000 (around $15,000 USD) for a new honeymoon, but when the company refused, he agreed to accept £1,000 (around $1,500 USD) instead. When Apple refused to settle at all, he decided to sue and face Apple’s high-priced lawyers in a London court. In a victory for the common man, White won the case and was awarded approximately £2,000 ($2,988.50 USD) in compensation and court costs.
In awarding the judgment, Judge Ruth Fine also scolded Apple for its carelessness.
“I accept the claimant’s version of events,” she said. “The defendant’s employees were negligent in the treatment of the claimant’s telephone, causing the claimant loss of photographs of particular sentimental value and the loss of all his contacts.” She also said she found it unreasonable that the company had been unwilling to settle with White, forcing the case to be heard in court.
The decision by Apple to allow the case to be heard rather than settle seems like a huge public relations blunder. The story is now being reported worldwide, and in addition to publicizing the negligence of Apple’s Genius Bar employees, it also highlights the corporate callousness the company demonstrated when it stated in court papers that, despite the loss of priceless photos, videos and other information, “the claimant has not demonstrated how he suffered any loss.” Not only could Apple have avoided any bad publicity for a mere £1,000, it’s hard to imagine that its legal costs to fight the case weren’t considerably more than that amount.