The claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleges that Toshiba was negligent in the design of laptops, and knew or should have known about problems relating to the computers’ design. Claimants say Toshiba still sold, marketed and distributed the computers in Canada.
“The primary concern is that the motherboard is defective and failing at a rapid rate,” said Joel Rochon of Rochon Genova LLP, the Toronto-based law firm representing the plaintiff and prospective class members.“Without the motherboard functioning, the computer is virtually worthless. The situation has been around virtually since this Toshiba computer came on the market” in 2002, Rochon said.
Rochon Genova said the failures involving the Satellite Pro 6100 computer often occur outside of the warranty period, at which point laptop owners have spent hundreds of dollars in replacing the motherboard or hard drives. The firm alleges these customers cannot use their computer for extended periods of time because of premature failures and unexpected shutdowns.
Rochon said it is too early to predict the outcome of the Canadian lawsuit representing thousands of Canadian owners of the laptop, but a similar 2005 action in the United States involving the Satellite Pro 6100 Computers versus Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. was settled in March in the Superior Court of California.
Although there is no easy way to quantify the value of the U.S. settlement, laptop owners will receive new warranties and be compensated for their out-of-pocket expenses every time their computer was fixed, said Jonathan Selbin, a lawyer with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP in New York, the firm acting on behalf of about 115,000 to 120,000 U.S. claimants.
At the high end, owners of a Satellite Pro 6100 notebook computer who sent in their computers for repair four times or more will receive U.S.$1,000 in cash or a $1,500 credit, said Selbin.
Sherry Lyons, marketing communications manager of Toshiba of Canada in Markham, Ont., said the PC maker has not yet been served notice about the suit and therefore was unable to comment on the case.
Toshiba is not the only PC maker to run into issues about its notebooks. Dell two years ago recalled 4.4 million AC adapters for its laptops after receiving reports that they overheated and could result in fire or electrical shock to users.
The recall, which involved the Latitude, Precision and Inspiron notebooks, affected only the adapters. The size of the overall recall was said to have made the case one of the biggest among technology companies in recent years.