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Jones v. Apple, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 22, 2016

PATRICK JONES and DIANE JONES, Plaintiffs
v.
APPLE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Apple, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint (Docs. 22 and 23) and Request for Judicial Notice (Doc. 24). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss and denies as moot the Request for Judicial Notice.

         Factual & Procedural Background

         Plaintiffs Patrick Jones and Diane Jones (“Plaintiffs”), on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated consumers, assert breach of warranty claims against Defendant Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) related to a defect in the Apple iPhone 4S that caused its network indicator to inaccurately reflect that it was capable of operating as a 4G device (Doc. 18, p. 2). The First Amended Complaint alleges that this 4G status icon appeared on iPhone 4S devices that were connected to AT&T’s HSPA network (Id.). Plaintiffs allege that the iPhone 4S is defective because it lacks materials (including a 4G-capable broadband chip) and workmanship essential to the proper use described in the User Guide (Doc. 18, p. 7). Plaintiffs assert claims for breach of express warranty under the Illinois Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”) (Doc. 18, p. 14-16).

         According to Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint, the International Telecommunications Union is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum and sets international cellular and radio standards and exclusively creates and propagates the standards for the generation designation of mobile devices, including the generations referred to and marketed as “3G” and “4G” technologies (Doc. 18, p. 5). Plaintiffs allege that “the higher the G designation, the faster the transmission speed” (Doc. 18, p. 1). In 2008, the Radio communications sector of the International Telecommunication Union (“ITU-R”) issued the standard for 4G designation, known as IMT-Advanced (Doc. 18, p. 5). Plaintiffs allege that the IMT-Advanced standard for 4G designation is only theoretical to date in the United States, and “[n]o mobile device or cellular network available to consumers in this country has met the IMT-Advanced standard.” (Id.). On December 6, 2010, the ITU-R issued a press release stating that some “evolved 3G technologies” could also be recognized as 4G in certain circumstances, even though they did not satisfy the IMT-Advanced 4G standard:

Following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that “LTE-Advanced” and “WirelessMAN-Advanced” should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced. As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as “4G”, although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.

(Id., p. 6).

         In July 2013, Plaintiffs purchased their iPhone 4Ss at a store in Collinsville, Illinois (Doc. 18, p. 4). Apple first released the iPhone 4S on October 14, 2011 (Doc. 18, p. 1). Plaintiffs allege that when the iPhone 4S was released, Apple represented that the iPhone 4S was a 3G device and the Apple User Guide indicated that the 3G network was the most advanced cellular network over which the iPhone 4S could connect (Id.). On March 7, 2012, Apple updated its iPhone software and published a new User Guide (Doc. 18, p. 2). Plaintiffs allege that this new User Guide represents that the iPhone 4S is a 4G device because the User Guide states the following:

[The status icon] 4G . . . shows . . . that your carrier’s 4G UMTS (GSM) network is available, and iPhone can connect to the Internet over that network. (iPhone 4S only. Not available in all areas.).

(Id.). Plaintiffs allege that the iPhone 4S is not a 4G device according to the standards set forth by the International Telecommunications Union, or by any standard (Id.).

         On March 6, 2015, Plaintiffs wrote a letter to Apple’s Warranty Department stating that “their iPhone 4S did ‘not operate as a 4G mobile device’ for a number of reasons and requested that Apple either ‘repair the iPhone 4S so that it functions as a 4G phone or provide a refund [.]’” (Doc. 18, p. 10; Doc. 18-2). Plaintiffs noted in the letter that they were writing on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals in Illinois (Id.). On March 17, 2015, Apple Customer Care responded in writing stating “[w]e understand you have a technical problem with your iPhone, ” but “Apple does not currently provide technical support through written correspondence.” (Doc. 18, p. 10). Apple then advised Plaintiffs to consider various other options for obtaining service and support, which included contacting an 800 number for AppleCare iPhone Technical Support (Id.).

         On August 22, 2015, Plaintiff Patrick Jones called the 800 number and complained about his iPhone 4S’s failure to operate as a 4G device (Id.). The Apple representative who answered the 800 call told Mr. Jones to remove certain malware from his iPhone 4S (Id., p. 11).

         On March 6, 2015, the same day that Plaintiffs sent a letter to Apple’s Warranty Department, Plaintiffs filed suit in this district court. Plaintiffs’ original complaint asserted claims of consumer fraud, common law fraudulent omission, and unjust enrichment (Doc. 1). The case was originally assigned to Judge J. Phil Gilbert. On March 10, 2015, the case was reassigned to the undersigned. On August 27, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint, dropping their fraud claims and asserting claims for breach of express warranty under the UCC (Count I) and the MMWA (Count II).

         On September 28, 2015, Apple filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint (Docs. 22 & 23) and a Request for Judicial Notice (Doc. 24). The motions ...


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