Judge Rules Lineage Lawsuit May Proceed

| 3 Sep 2010 18:43
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The man who sued NCsoft for his addiction to Lineage II has scored a victory of sorts after a judge ruled that the game's End User License Agreement doesn't preclude him from launching a lawsuit and seeking damages.

What do you do after you've sunk 20,000 hours of your life into an MMO and rendered yourself a useless, non-functioning piece of garbage who can't be bothered to bathe, get dressed or even communicate with your fellow human beings? If you're Craig Smallwood of Hawaii, you sue the company that made the game for failing to warn people that playing an MMO can be dangerous. It sounds ridiculous, but Smallwood's action has cleared its first legal hurdle: Despite NCsoft's assertion that the EULA forbids such lawsuits, the judge in the case has decided to let it go ahead.

The Lineage II user license states that "in no event shall NC Interactive ... be liable to you or to any third party for any special, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages ... regardless of the theory of liability" arising from the use of its service. But rather than dismiss the suit, Judge Alan C. Kay "noted that both Texas and Hawaii law bar contract provisions that waive in advance the ability to make gross-negligence claims." As a result, he ruled that Smallwood's case may proceed.

The judge also allowed Smallwood's claims for negligence, defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress to stand, although as lawyer Steve Roosa noted on the Freedom to Tinker blog, "The fact that the gross negligence claims survived is significant in and of itself, but in reality having the right to sue for 'gross negligence' is the functional equivalent of having the right to sue for straight-up negligence as well - thus radically broadening the scope of claims that (according to the court) cannot be waived in a User Agreement."

The ruling has no bearing on the merits of the lawsuit itself but Roosa noted that it could have an impact on future cases, writing, "The Smallwood decision, if it stands, may achieve some lasting significance in the software license wars." A full copy of the ruling is available from us.archive.org. (PDF format)

Source: The Register

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BlueHighwind:

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:
I'm going to sue God for designing me so that I have to masturbate at least weekly. I never signed on for that!

Yeah, about that.

Someone tried. It got thrown out because they couldn't find him.

How could they not find God? She's everywhere! Its not like losing your keys. Look left: God. Look right: God. Look in the toilet bowl: more God. That's a pathetic excuse. As a matter of fact, God is physically sitting on the witness stand this very second. Why find God if She's already in court?

You were not the only on to find a problem with this ruling.

Mr Chambers, 71, Nebraska's longest serving state senator who has been dubbed "defender of the downtrodden" and the "maverick of Omaha", disagreed with the judge's ruling.

"The court itself acknowledges the existence of God," he said. "A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God's omniscience."

Therefore, "since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit", he added.

Well, here's an even bigger concern: how can you police God? Let's say She loses the suit, and has to pay me 500 gazillion dollars, and then She doesn't pay. Do I call the police? Its God, she can turn all the cops into puppies, all their guns into chewing gum, and retroactively change history so that our legal system is based largely upon dueling. And if that doesn't work, God can simply submerge the entirety of the North American continent in water thus destroying me, and anybody else who would dare make Her pay out.

I don't think the court had a legal reason to not follow through with the suit, they were just afraid. Mess with God and next thing you know your hands are now three sizes smaller and you have a penis growing out of your ear.

He never followed through with the appeal. The point the Senator wanted to make was that in the American legal system anyone can sue anyone. So he sued God. Had he followed up on the appeal and it went to court who knows what would have happened? Quite honestly if God does exist I don't think he would have showed anyway. What could they do about it?

Ok its people like Craig that make us have the huge warning labels on everything because of morons like him tring to make money off the dumb shit they do

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:
I'm going to sue God for designing me so that I have to masturbate at least weekly. I never signed on for that!

Yeah, about that.

Someone tried. It got thrown out because they couldn't find him.

How could they not find God? She's everywhere! Its not like losing your keys. Look left: God. Look right: God. Look in the toilet bowl: more God. That's a pathetic excuse. As a matter of fact, God is physically sitting on the witness stand this very second. Why find God if She's already in court?

You were not the only on to find a problem with this ruling.

Mr Chambers, 71, Nebraska's longest serving state senator who has been dubbed "defender of the downtrodden" and the "maverick of Omaha", disagreed with the judge's ruling.

"The court itself acknowledges the existence of God," he said. "A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God's omniscience."

Therefore, "since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit", he added.

Well, here's an even bigger concern: how can you police God? Let's say She loses the suit, and has to pay me 500 gazillion dollars, and then She doesn't pay. Do I call the police? Its God, she can turn all the cops into puppies, all their guns into chewing gum, and retroactively change history so that our legal system is based largely upon dueling. And if that doesn't work, God can simply submerge the entirety of the North American continent in water thus destroying me, and anybody else who would dare make Her pay out.

I don't think the court had a legal reason to not follow through with the suit, they were just afraid. Mess with God and next thing you know your hands are now three sizes smaller and you have a penis growing out of your ear.

This guy is taking money that was going to be spent on game development. even if he loses his case, how is he going to afford to pay NCsofts legal bills...

actually on second thoughts ncsoft probably have an in-house lawyer so it doesn't matter

Should I sue cheesecake for being delicious? I'm almost positive this will go nowhere.

If something DID rid his life of Lineage, he probably just would've found some other excuse to vegetate anyway. The whole thing is him, not any MMO.

BlueHighwind:

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:
I'm going to sue God for designing me so that I have to masturbate at least weekly. I never signed on for that!

Yeah, about that.

Someone tried. It got thrown out because they couldn't find him.

How could they not find God? She's everywhere! Its not like losing your keys. Look left: God. Look right: God. Look in the toilet bowl: more God. That's a pathetic excuse. As a matter of fact, God is physically sitting on the witness stand this very second. Why find God if She's already in court?

You were not the only on to find a problem with this ruling.

Mr Chambers, 71, Nebraska's longest serving state senator who has been dubbed "defender of the downtrodden" and the "maverick of Omaha", disagreed with the judge's ruling.

"The court itself acknowledges the existence of God," he said. "A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God's omniscience."

Therefore, "since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit", he added.

What is this I don't even

...

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUWHAT?

Silver Patriot:

BlueHighwind:
I'm going to sue God for designing me so that I have to masturbate at least weekly. I never signed on for that!

Yeah, about that.

Someone tried. It got thrown out because they couldn't find him.

How could they not find God? She's everywhere! Its not like losing your keys. Look left: God. Look right: God. Look in the toilet bowl: more God. That's a pathetic excuse. As a matter of fact, God is physically sitting on the witness stand this very second. Why find God if She's already in court?

ionveau:

Infernai:

obisean:

Because lawyers exist.

...Imagine a world without lawyers

Oh yes...i went there.

I hope you know MMO RPGs are created to give the user as little contant for the amount of money spent, overall if i could i would crush all MMOs its funny how we all think inside the box why dont we look at MMO like smokes? or crack i have seen people with mental illness die player these games i seen people acquire mental illness sitting in front of these games if it was up to me MMOs would be 18+

While thats an interesting comment, and i also don't mean to sound rude in any capacity but....what has that got to do with the fact i said "Imagine a world without lawyers".

Infernai:

obisean:

Because lawyers exist.

...Imagine a world without lawyers

Oh yes...i went there.

I hope you know MMO RPGs are created to give the user as little contant for the amount of money spent, overall if i could i would crush all MMOs its funny how we all think inside the box why dont we look at MMO like smokes? or crack i have seen people with mental illness die player these games i seen people acquire mental illness sitting in front of these games if it was up to me MMOs would be 18+

"What do you do after you've sunk 20,000 hours of your life into an MMO and rendered yourself a useless, non-functioning piece of garbage"

Exactly what i think of mmo players, or atlest the ones that spand 3 hrs a day doing the same thing over and over

I fail to see how the state of that guy's social life is in any way NCsoft's responsibility. He made a conscious choice to play the game. NCsoft is not going to tell him to stop playing, just as McDonald's or Burger King aren't going to stop selling you burgers when they think you've had too many. Managing your personal health and social welfare is your responsibility, not NCsoft's.
It's shit like this that truly degrades and destroys society.

TerribleAssassin:
This get's through?

What has seriously happened here?

It's not the devs fault this man didn't get outside, they shouldn't be taking the wrap..

Yes, it gets through. Why wouldn't it?

obisean:

Because lawyers exist.

...Imagine a world without lawyers

Oh yes...i went there.

BlueHighwind:
I'm going to sue God for designing me so that I have to masturbate at least weekly. I never signed on for that!

Yeah, about that.

Someone tried. It got thrown out because they couldn't find him.

Lord_Beric:

Sniper Team 4:
Basically said

The judge's decision wasn't unreasonable beacuse he didn't reject the case based on the EULA. His decision was unreasonable beacuse he didn't reject the case on the fact that the guy didn't really have a case.

That's not the question they asked him. Remember how people scream "JUDICIAL ACTIVISM!" when a judge 'fixes' an issue that wasn't really what they were asking him about? That's exactly what you're accusing him of not doing. He didn't throw out the case due to lack of merit because it hasn't gotten to that point yet. His okay isn't "Let's get this thing to trial" it's "Your EULA agreement isn't enough to stop a trial from happening." The question of "Does this guy's case have merit" can't be answered until someone asks a judge "Is this guy even allowed to sue based on the EULA he signed when he clicked 'I agree.'"

If the judge had thrown out the case when it was in front of him, it would have HAD to be because he decided a EULA is powerful enough to throw away your other rights. THAT would have been an extreme change, because then a software company could literally put anything into their EULA and force you to agree to it when you install their program. Instead of screaming about him not throwing out the case, you should be praising him for not doing the stupid thing and throwing it out when the issue he's deciding is whether people have the right to sue at all.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/jump/7.230030.7998366

After rereading all the facts carefully, I must admit that I have prematurely jumped to conclusions. I thought that the pre-trial proceedings have concluded and that the case was allowed to go on trial, but I was mistaken. My apologies. In light of this fact, I have to agree that the judge has acted correctly so far.

Nevertheless, it is scary to think what kind of precedent this case will start if it is allowed to go on trial. We can only hope it will not come to that.

Good ruling, I don't think a lot of people are getting what this actually did.

As the article points out, this has nothing to do with the case itself, but basically castrates the EULA a bit more by making it clear that software producers can't absolve themselves of all responsibility by including an in-game disclaimer.

Right or wrong, the guy is basically accusing them of criminal negligence. The specific case might be ridiculous, but other cases down the road might not be, this will ensure that those cases go to court like they should.

I notice a lot of people here on The Escapist tend to not see the big picture. A lot of people reading this will probably remember numerous, heated EULA arguements, which tie into various DRM, Piracy, and Intellectual Property discussions. Questions like "wait, can the company say I don't own my game but am leasing it despite having paid them for it?". A paticularly valid one because you don't "agree" to the EULA until after you've paid for something you cannot easily return, and you can't use the game or software without agreeing to it. What's more the very long, and confusing EULAs basically amount to shotgun "we are bulletproof, and can come after you for sneezing in a way we don't like with this product". A lot of people argue that it's a legally binding contract, however cases like this make it abundantly clear that this is not the case because those EULA agreements include things that are not legally possible. As much as businessmen hate it, there are rights a person cannot be made to sign away, and the laws were created specifically to prevent things like EULAs from forcing people to give up legal protection whenever they wanted to do anything. Trust me, if it wasn't that way the issue would be bigger than software and video games, since everyone would make you sign a contract before doing anything.

I'll be honest, I don't believe in dismissing cases "because they are too expensive" principles exist for a reason. It remains to be seen if this guy will actually win the case (I doubt it) but I do feel going to court is one of his rights.

This is not 'facepalm' worthy because this arguement is no more absurd than some of the battles waged against Tobacco over the years, there was a time when people thought the idea of addiction and damage was just as ridiculous with that.

I hope he loses though because if he wins this case, it will open the door for the goverment to make rulings on what reasonable precautions for these kinds of games should be. Developers will have to program around those requirements, and the games themselves will suffer. Perhaps leading to crazy things like goverment mandated play limits where say a game has to shut someone out after three or four hours of play, or auto-shuts down for 15 minutes out of every hours to comply with something I believe one of our Surgeon Generals mentioned was a good rule of thumb. This would mean no more long quests, grinding, raids, dungeons, or other things that people want to do with these games.

Understand that when it comes to health issues the goverment can do a lot of things it can't when it comes to free speech. Especially on the state level. In some states it's apparently illegal to sell unfiltered cigarettes for example. Requiring a game to enforce time limits would be the equivilent of a filter, however the nature of the MMORPG product means that they aren't going to be able to succeed by cutting out entire states full of customers, that means that due to the US being the primary market all games will come with those features.

I also believe some Asian countries have instituted internet curfews (or tried) and made playing online games beyond a certain time illegal. How it worked out is beyond me, but again in the US precedent from something like this can have a truely massive effect.

He should get his day in court, but from our perspective he NEEDS to lose, though anything that weakens the game industry and it's EULA attempts along the way is good.

At the same time, consider that with all the politics involving video games right now, this is a case where you have to keep an eye on the possibility of political interferance. Politicians pressuring the judge(s) with money, threats, promises, etc... and/or doing the same to Jury members and the like.

If you were Barack Obama for example and were making a position out of video games being responsible for a lot of our health issues, especially for children, here is a place to apply some pressure covertly and then spin the results in your re-election bid (I
m not kidding, he's made a position on this). That's bigger than this is likely to get, even behind the scenes, but all obstacles to prevent this kind of thing from happening, only a fool believes courts are not influanced by politics and politicians. If Barak Obama called up the Judge on his lunch break, or had some of his people stop by to have a "word" with some of the lawyers involved, or wanted to stack the Jury or whatever, three guesses what would happen... and it doesn't even take a President to make a mess like that, a Governor, state selectman, Senator, Congressman, or others can be just as bad and all have played roles in big issues before when they shouldn't have.

As I said, keep an eye on it. Ridiculous case, but the very fact that he should lose, and arguably gamers need him to lose to maintain the status quo, is also why this is a battle that might see interferance.

This is really bad for Smallwood. There is little chance of success and getting past this hurdle only means he is going to be spending more on lawyers.

Sniper Team 4:
Basically said

The judge's decision wasn't unreasonable beacuse he didn't reject the case based on the EULA. His decision was unreasonable beacuse he didn't reject the case on the fact that the guy didn't really have a case.

That's not the question they asked him. Remember how people scream "JUDICIAL ACTIVISM!" when a judge 'fixes' an issue that wasn't really what they were asking him about? That's exactly what you're accusing him of not doing. He didn't throw out the case due to lack of merit because it hasn't gotten to that point yet. His okay isn't "Let's get this thing to trial" it's "Your EULA agreement isn't enough to stop a trial from happening." The question of "Does this guy's case have merit" can't be answered until someone asks a judge "Is this guy even allowed to sue based on the EULA he signed when he clicked 'I agree.'"

If the judge had thrown out the case when it was in front of him, it would have HAD to be because he decided a EULA is powerful enough to throw away your other rights. THAT would have been an extreme change, because then a software company could literally put anything into their EULA and force you to agree to it when you install their program. Instead of screaming about him not throwing out the case, you should be praising him for not doing the stupid thing and throwing it out when the issue he's deciding is whether people have the right to sue at all.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/jump/7.230030.7998366

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