When Eugene’s Wyatt Mann bought a $2,000 Lenovo computer from Best Buy in early December, he didn’t expect its Intel chip to open the door to crime. After the holidays, however, Intel revealed that a chip design flaw may allow hackers to access his computer.
No evidence has emerged that cybercriminals have exploited the widely publicized flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, but consumers are nervous. A software fix released in early January patches the vulnerability but reduces performance by up to 30 percent.
Mann hired Portland attorney Michael Fuller, who filed a class action complaint in federal court in Eugene on Jan. 4 against Intel.
The suit claims that Intel Corp. knew about the defect in November but did not tell consumers until January. According to media reports, a Google representative said Intel knew of it in June. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off a large portion of his company stock in November, before the flaw was made public, though Krzanich has claimed this had nothing to do with defective chips.
Mann seeks a refund or $200 in damages from Intel — the minimum amount in Oregon that can be filed for statutory damage — protesting that he would not have purchased a computer had he been aware of this problem.
His suit also seeks class action status for all Intel customers similarly affected.
“I just want my client indemnified for his right to choose the best product as a consumer,” Fuller says.
Mann’s case could be consolidated with a similar class action suit filed in California.
Fuller is not looking for a coupon settlement.
“A coupon settlement offers consumers a small discount on the next purchase from the defendant,” Fuller says. “This is usually more lucrative for attorneys and essentially forces plaintiffs to continue buying from defendants. Mann, however, simply wants his ability to choose whether or not to purchase Intel products reinstated.”
Fuller would not make Mann, about whom he would provide no other information, available for comment, saying an interview could affect the lawsuit.
Eugene Weekly was unable to locate Mann.