Quebec judge authorizes class action lawsuit against ‘addictive’ video game Fortnite
A Supreme Court judge has cleared a lawsuit brought by Quebec parents alleging their children have become addicted to the popular online video game Fortnite.
Judge Sylvain Lussier made the ruling Wednesday after hearing arguments in July regarding the class action filing from three parents who described how their children showed symptoms of severe dependence after playing the game.
“The court concludes that a serious issue must be raised supported by sufficient and specific allegations regarding the existence of risks or even dangers arising from the use of Fortnite,” the judge ruled, noting that the action “ does not seem frivolous… or manifestly unfounded.”
The company that filed the lawsuit, Montreal-based Calex Legal, has drawn parallels to a groundbreaking civil lawsuit against the Quebec tobacco industry, which sought to create something addictive without proper warning.
“Our motion was very much inspired by the tobacco motion, just in terms of what we argued,” attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand said in an interview. The manufacturer’s legal responsibility is “basically the same,” she added.
The parents claimed that the game was deliberately made highly addictive and had a lasting effect on their children, but the court did not go that far.
“The court finds that there is no evidence to support these allegations of intentionally creating an addictive game,” the judge noted. “This does not rule out the possibility that the game is indeed addictive and that the designer and distributor are presumed to know.”
One parent, identified by initials in the documents, said their son had played 6,923 games and became angry when his parents tried to limit his playing time, including putting a lock on the computer. Another child played more than 7,700 times in two years and played for a minimum of three hours a day. All reported behavioral problems.
The judge approved the lawsuit for all players living in Quebec since September 1, 2017 who became addicted after playing Fortnite Battle Royale, made by US-based Epic Games Inc., with numerous consequences for activities, including family, social, educational or professional.
There is no dollar amount associated with the lawsuit, with any compensation to be determined by the court.
A second category in the class action will look at in-game purchases, with the court ruling that purchasers under the age of 18 may be eligible for a refund and a refund of their money.
Esposito Chartrand said on Wednesday that 200 people have come forward.
Epic Games did not respond to a message asking for comment on Thursday. The defendants have 30 days to request permission to appeal.
The company’s lawyers had argued in court that the evidence provided was insufficient and that video game dependence is not a recognized condition in Quebec, adding that the American Psychiatric Association says there is insufficient evidence to classify it as a unique mental disorder .
The judge said these issues would be discussed substantively, but noted that in 2018 the World Health Organization declared video game addiction, or “gambling disorder,” a disease.
“The fact that U.S. psychiatrists have called for more research or that this diagnosis has not yet been officially recognized in Quebec does not make the claims in question ‘frivolous’ or ‘unfounded,'” Lussier wrote.
“The harmful effect of tobacco was not recognized or admitted overnight,” he added.
Quebec judge clears class action lawsuit against ‘addictive’ video game Fortnite first appeared on Canada News Media.