Quebec judge authorizes class action lawsuit against ‘addictive’ Fortnite video game | Globalnews.ca

A Supreme Court judge has cleared a lawsuit filed by Quebec parents alleging that their children have become addicted to the popular online video game Fortnite.

Judge Sylvain Lussier issued the ruling on Wednesday after hearing arguments in July on the class-action motion from three parents who described how their children developed symptoms of severe dependence after playing the game.

“The court concluded that there was a serious case to be argued, supported by sufficient and specific allegations that there were risks or even risks arising from the use of Fortnite,” the judge ruled, noting that the action “does not appear to be frivolous or manifestly unfounded.”

The company filing the lawsuit, Montreal-based Calex Legal, paralleled a high-profile civil lawsuit filed against the Quebec tobacco industry, which it alleged intended to create something addictive without proper warning.

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“Our proposal was heavily inspired by the tobacco movement just in terms of what we were claiming,” attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand said in an interview. She added that the manufacturer’s legal liability is “essentially the same”.

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The parents alleged that the game was intentionally addictive and had a lasting effect on their children, but the court did not go that far.

“The court found that there was no evidence to substantiate these allegations of intentionally creating an addictive game,” the judge noted. “This does not exclude the possibility that the game is in fact addictive and its designer and distributor should have been aware of it.”

One of the parents, identified by initials in the filing, said their son had played 6,923 games and became angry when his parents tried to limit his playtime, including by putting a lock on the computer. Another child played more than 7,700 times in two years and played at least three hours a day. All behavioral problems reported.

The judge authorized the lawsuit for any players residing in Quebec since September 1, 2017, who became addicted after playing Fortnite Battle Royale, made by Epic Games Inc. and based in the United States, which show a range of ramifications for activities including family, social, educational or occupational.

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There is no dollar amount attached to the lawsuit, with any potential compensation to be determined by the court.

A second class in the class action will consider in-game purchases, with the court declaring that purchasers under the age of 18 could be eligible for refunds and refunds.

As of Wednesday, Esposito Chartrand said 200 people had come forward.

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Epic Games did not respond to a message seeking comment on Thursday. Defendants have 30 days to request permission to appeal.

Lawyers for the company argued in court that the evidence presented 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 those cases would be argued on the merits, but noted that in 2018 the World Health Organization declared video game addiction, or “gaming disorder,” to be a disease.

“The fact that American psychiatrists have called for further 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.

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“The harmful effect of tobacco was not recognized or recognized overnight,” he added.

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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