iPhone 4 antenna issue: The class action lawsuits begin

Apple faces a class action lawsuit stemming from issues with the iPhone 4's faulty antenna.

Two Maryland residents have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple and AT&T over the iPhone 4 antenna design issue that has caused dropped calls and signal loss for some users. The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation for their troubles, and the case also asks the court to prevent Apple from selling the iPhone 4 until the antenna issue is solved. The laundry list of allegations against the two companies includes negligence, breach of implied warranty, deceptive trade practices and fraud. The suit also holds Apple accountable for knowingly selling a defective product, according to Computerworld.

Techworld Australia feature: Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4

Plaintiffs Kevin McCaffrey and Linda Wrinn separately pre-ordered the iPhone 4, and each received their phones between June 24 and June 28 the suit says. Soon after both plaintiffs experienced signal loss and dropped calls when "handling the phones as demonstrated in Apple's advertisements or as a reasonable person would handle a mobile telephone when making calls," according to court documents obtained by Gizmodo.

The antenna issue Apple has been under intense scrutiny after it was discovered that covering the lower left side of the recently launched iPhone 4 can cause signal loss. The problem appears to be caused by the fact that the cellular antenna points are located where most people would hold a mobile phone thereby causing your hand to dampen the signal.

Apple issued a statement shortly after the antenna issue came up saying that all mobile phones experience some signal loss when held in certain ways. The company advises users to either hold the phone differently or buy a case to prevent your hand from coming in contact with the antenna points. A software fix is rumored to be under development to solve the issue, and some say we could see a firmware update as early as Monday. Apple has not made any public statements admitting that the antenna issue was related to a software problem.

McCaffrey and Wrinn are represented in the suit against Apple and AT&T by the Washington D.C.-based law firm Ward & Ward, as well as the Maryland-based law offices of Charles A. Gilman. Since June 29, Ward & Ward has been covering the iPhone 4 antenna issue on its blog and asking iPhone 4 users experiencing problems to contact the firm.

The class action suit filed in Maryland may be the first of many brought against Apple and possibly AT&T over the iPhone 4. Bloomberg News is reporting of two separate class action suits filed against Apple: one by New Jersey resident Alan Benvenisty and another by Massachussetts resident Christopher Dydyk. The Dydyk suit wants Apple to supply free bumper cases to customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 4.

In late June, the California-based law firm Kershaw, Cutter and Ratinoff issued a notice that it was looking for iPhone 4 customers experiencing signal problems with their new devices. KCR later issued a statement about its iPhone 4 investigation saying it is looking for "other remedies" for users who feel burned by Apple and are unwilling to return their phones and pay the mandatory restocking fee.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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