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Plaintiffs try to keep 'Error 53' lawsuit against Apple alive, say reimbursement not enough

Apple's motion to dismiss a pending class action lawsuit related to the infamous "Error 53" Touch ID issue was countered in a recent court filing claiming the company's remedial actions, which include an iOS software update and reimbursement efforts, are inadequate.

Apple earlier this month filed a motion with California's Northern District Court to dismiss an amended class action complaint stemming from so-called "Error 53" problems that reportedly "bricked" an unknown number of Touch ID-equipped devices. After releasing a software update to address the error message, and offering to reimburse customers who paid to have affected devices repaired or replaced, Apple argues the complaint is moot.

In response, plaintiffs claim Apple failed to properly inform users of the reimbursement program. Aside from a "vague" announcement on its official website — a Support Pages document published in April — Apple made little effort to inform customers, the document says. The company also cross referenced its records and sent out emails to users believed to be eligible for a refund, but one named plaintiff did not receive the notice. Another complainant twice attempted to contact support representatives on their own to discuss the reimbursement procedure but was inadvertently disconnected both times. It is unclear if they tried to call back.

The initial complaint, lodged in February, alleges Apple has "gone too far" in attempts to control the iOS device ecosystem. In some cases users reported Error 53 messages after replacing their iPhone's Touch ID module, or in some cases screen, flex cable and water-damaged components, through unofficial channels, prompting speculation that Apple was intentionally disabling devices fixed out of network.

As a result, customers who went to a third-party firm for repairs, and whose limited warranty had expired, were forced to pay out-of-warranty replacement costs. Further, Error 53 forces a device reset, meaning users run the risk of losing all locally stored data that was not previously backed up.

Apple itself acknowledged the issue less than a week before the California lawsuit was filed, suggesting the error may in some cases be the result of built-in security checks.

"We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers," an Apple representative told AppleInsider. "iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device's other components. If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support."

Both the original and amended complaints allege fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment tied to Error 53 bricking and device repairs. Barring an amicable resolution, the parties will meet in a motion hearing on June 16.