L.A. man sues Apple for broken iPhone 4 glass

Image of an iPhone 4 with broken glass on the backside

Image of an iPhone 4 with broken glass on the backside

Here we go again. A Los Angeles man named Donald LeBuhn filed a class action lawsuit against Apple because his daughter dropped an iPhone 4 that he paid for and the glass cracked. LeBuhn says Apple’s advertising is misleading and that the iPhone 4’s glass isn’t as strong as claimed. Does someone need to give Mr. LeBuhn a brief primer on the difference between hardness and brittleness?

While some outlets are referring to this incident as the first “Glassgate” lawsuit, let’s not confuse it with the Glassgate issue (or non-issue as it turns out) that popped up a few months ago. The old story said iPhone 4 users were removing slider cases from their phones to find shattered glass because of debris scratching the phone as the cases came on and off. This lawsuit simply illustrates a man who doesn’t know that even the hardest glass will shatter at sharp, sudden impact, and has taken his battle to Apple.

In LeBuhn’s lawsuit, he says:

“Months after selling millions of iPhone 4s, Apple has failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective.”

Sure, Apple has said that its glass casing is strong and comparable to sapphire crystal, but even a child knows that glass will break or shatter when dropped from a certain height onto a hard floor. LeBuhn says that his 3GS, which had a plastic casing and glass screen, remained intact when dropped from the same height.

[Via: TNW]

  • Another attempt at stealing from the big boys? It’s defective not invulnerable

    • Faramir711

      I’m sure she did that, right after she dropped her Happy Meal off the back of a dinosaur. Then she drank some Crystal Pepsi and felt better.

  • Ultimately, Congress will probably have to pass a bill, much like the one they passed back when everyone was suing McDonalds.

  • Unfortunately there is already precedence for cases like these. If under normal usage he dropped it from a reasonable level and it broke then he might have a claim. If he dropped it off the second story then obviously not. It might be sad to say but when you make claims of increased durability or toughness then you open yourself to these types of BS lawsuits.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a hand held computer treat it with care – don’t drop it! How can Apple be responsible for people being clumsy? Be responsible for your own actions, what a jerk!

    • It’s about advertising something that isn’t true, DOH.

  • Anonymous

    If LeBuhn’s daughter drop iPhone 4 in the apple’s declared safe height and LeBuhn can found the words said by apple about this sue, apple should give him/her another explanation.

  • “glass casing is strong and comparable to sapphire crystal”

    “glass will break or shatter when dropped from a certain height onto a hard floor”

    Your contradicting yourself.

    Sapphire is the 2nd hardest crystal known to man, only second to diamonds. It’s twice as hard as Topaz to say the least. A drop from a kid, which is 2 meters at max should not damage this type of crystal at all.

    • Tbreak32

      A child of 2 meters?? I’m a fully grown adult and I’m 1.83 meters.

      Seriously, if you know a kid thats 2 meters tall, get him/her enrolled in a basketball club now.

      • Was putting 2 meters as the worst case scenario.

    • SolidSquid

      You know, you could always read the link they give explaining the difference between hardness and brittleness. You know, the one which points out the comparison is sapphire crystal, not sapphire gemstone (the gemstone is the second hardest stone, not the crystal), which is much weaker, and that even if it’s hard, because glass is brittle a sudden impact will still break it. Hardness refers to scratch resistance, Hence why comparing it to sapphire crystal (strong, although not as strong as you imply) and pointing out that glass will break when dropped (ie, glass is brittle) is not a contradiction

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. Thank you.

      • This does not justify Apple comparing it to Sappire then seeing it break like it’s more fragile than glass itself.

    • kdrummer

      I don’t have the energy to explain all the details, but I would urge you to take a look into what happens when you fix a strong/rigid/resilient material to a frame. Vibrations from shock that would normally not phase a material become much more severe when the normal oscillations of the material are critically damped. The natural energy dissipation now has no choice but to get forced back into the material because the edges are fixed.

      If you remember when the phone came out, there was a video of the glass bending about 30 degrees. This was very impressive. It implies resiliency of the material. However, the resiliency of the material degrades when the material is no longer able to vibrate/flex freely.

  • Askme

    If you dont have an iphone please do not comment.. Mine slipped from the couch and the screen shattered :l

  • SolidSquid

    With the way the cracks radiate out from a single point on the phones edge, it seems unlikely the phone was dropped onto a flat floor (if it radiated from the corner, sure, but how would a flat surface hit only a single point on another flat surface?). Full force of the fall focused onto a single point on the glass panel? Yeah, that’ll break it

  • Anonymous

    LOL, the bottom feeding, blood sucking attorneys see a gravy train to board. Too funny.


  • Pissed Off

    Just curious if he went to an Apple Store to see if they’d replace it….for free…or are the 10 or so Apple Stores in LA too far away? “Nah, it’s too far. I’ll just call my lawyer.”

  • Ra-Herakhty

    Eh…its Apple.

  • Jesus

    Just because Apple claims their screen wont break, that doesn’t give anyone the permission to just drop it whenever they so choose.
    Apple should sue him for being an idiot.

  • Roger A

    Dont want glass to break? Dont buy a glass phone!


    apple uses gorilla glass on the iphone 4, which is stiffer and more scratch resistant than the glass used on the 3gs (apple call it stronger). the drawback to gorilla glass is it toughness itself, which causes the glass to be more prone to shock damage. This is not a defective phone its the nature of the maufacturing parts. calling the iphone defective because it cracks when you drop it would be like suing a car manufacturer because you bumper got a dent in it when you backed into a pole.

  • A Realist

    I personally believe that this person, knowing that Apple is generally one of the richest corporations we have in existence, next to our “oh so awesome” government, he is just trying to get some type of incentive. It seems to me this is just another story of a man who is still so pissed about paying nearly $300 dollars for his phone, and is looking to get some money back and then some. This guy can jump off a bridge, or better yet have his “daughter” push him off, and then he can sue America for making bridges so high that he wasn’t able to survive from his sustained head injuries.

  • Utter nonsense. This man must be countersued by Apple. Nonsense.

  • Braulio gamboa

    This guy should clearly know that glass will shatter if dropped. its not rocket science

  • One thing that I don’t like is the fact the the front glass of the iPhone 4 is very strong like gorilla glass but the back is a cheaper glass that can crack and scratch very easily. When Apple was talking about the iP4 being scratch proof they didn’t tell you they were just talking about the front.

  • Globalsurvey88

    im using Apple since year 2000, and i notice more and more BUILD quality degradation …
    Please dont let apple become generic -_- ”
    Hoping apple lost this “Glassgate” lawsuit, and reinvented the quality of the long lost apple i used to ..

  • redishman

    I will go a little bit back with this. Why the iPhone 4 even look the way it is now?
    Why that saphire crystal wannabe? Why looking like a high end Nokia? Apart from the smart iOS and the gorgeous display and camera, this is no better looking than the 3Gs, which from my point of view (as a designer) is much better looking and original.

    That one had a back case which you could only scratch…not break. If I would by a new iPhone it will still be the 3Gs. I really hope the next gen will be better looking, current one looks like a Nokia confused tile.

    • Hans


      The iPhone 4/4s design is the most beautiful ever created! It literally is a piece of art. When using the phone it will blend into it´s surroundings as if it has always been there, as if nature itself had created it.

      There is simply no phone on earth which has accomplished this. And it has partially due to the use of glass. The fact both the back and the front are made of glass, made it that much cheaper to repair when broken. Compare this to Samsung or other devices like smartphones and tablets, people pay 200 euros to have their cracked S4 screen replaced and the price of older models like the S2 and S3 are still ridiculously high after all this time.

      I can buy a iPhone 4 touch plus lcd assembly for less than 20 euros. Now were we to take the iPhone 5, that is a completely different story! The back housing is made of some kind of alliminium which after some regular use makes your iPhone look like it is 10 years old.

      Cheapest back housing I can find costs 65 euros. Cheapest iPhone 4 back cover I can find costs me 4 euros. An I am not even buying from producers themselves yet!

      So my question would be, Apple can you please make your phones with glass again I love the iPhone 4 it is the best smartphone ever designed!

  • iphone 4s

    My phone 4s just cracked and i dropped it from two feet up, this is bull, Apple should do something about it or face being sued for negligible false advertising, this is a high end electronic device not a piece of glass! I had the droid and it was thrown on the floor several times and never broke! Apple knows this!

  • Krittiya

    i bought it less than 30 days ,accidentally dropped it from about 70 cm from the floor and it broke. I dropped my 3g & 3gs and the first model a few times and they were okay. Had to pay$200 + tax for a replacement. Apple said warrantee doesn’t cover physical damage. Just be careful. Don’t be like me.

  • Aspenforestproducts

    i just broke my glass on my iphone too. upset. Never had this happen with any other phone over 20 years…

  • The man has all the right to sue the company and defend his integrity and health. New technologies allow to use more resistant materials on the devices, not all the glasses break as you mention in your post. Corning aka Gorilla Glass 2 will teach you a new definition of glass. Make your homework before criticizing the gentleman. It is ridiculous the amount of money that an iPhone is worth to find out that it simply broke. GBY!

  • lindsay

    It is not, indeed, defective. When glass is dropped on a hard surface, it cracks. If it hadn’t cracked then it would be defective haha

  • lindsay

    It is not, indeed, defective. When glass is dropped on a hard surface, it cracks. If it hadn’t cracked then it would be defective haha

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