updated 03:30 pm EST, Fri February 5, 2010
Reversal makes Dell deal with California case
A San Francisco Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit accusing the company of knowingly selling flawed notebooks. The decision asserts that a move to shutter the case and head to arbitration was "unconscionable" and that the terms Dell used to avoid a trial couldn't be enforced. The public nature of the problem made it important to allow a proper case, according to Judge Lyle Strom.
The original lawsuit had sought class action status and claimed that some Inspiron notebook models sold between July 2004 and January 2005 had mainboards, cooling fans and power supplies that were fundamentally unreliable. Portables affected by the problem would spontaneously shut down or fail to start up at all. Without proper cooling, the systems would also wear down faster than they would have otherwise.
Many of the affected systems cost between $1,200 and $1,500 and contributed to the plaintiffs refusing to accept the original call for arbitration, as the scale of the losses meant they wouldn't necessarily want to strike deals for each and every customer.
Dell hasn't commented on the reinstatement.