More on the Grand Theft Auto lawsuit

by Ted Frank on July 28, 2005

A reader asks about yesterday’s post:

  • Shouldn’t the 85-year-old grandmother &/or the 14-year-old’s parents (where are the 14-year-old’s parents, please?) be hauled into court and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor? If this was a grandfather, he likely would be in court on charges ….
  • Has anyone asked the 14-year-old how, where, or from whom he got the extra scenes for the game??
  • Said grandmother is now lead plaintiff in class-action lawsuit against game’s maker and others, claiming . . . what?
  • How soon will this lawsuit be thrown out; how soon will it be declared “frivolous,” and how soon will the lawyers and the legal firm who filed this suit be either disbarred or sanctioned (or should they be punished at all)?

  1. There’s no reason to charge anyone with delinquency of a minor. One can question the grandmother’s or parents’ wisdom, but they’re allowed to expose their kids to R-rated material. The distributors of the modification to the game might have trouble if they aren’t screening for age, but no one seems to seek to go after the shallow pocket.
  2. The complaint makes no effort to claim that the kid ever had or accessed the extra scenes. I suspect the lawyers will claim that they don’t need to prove that to collect damages. They’re alleging the grandmother was deceived, that the defendants engaged in false advertising, that she wouldn’t have purchased a game if she had known about the hidden sex scenes, and that disgorgement of profits is appropriate—and not that the grandmother or the grandson was actually harmed in any way. I’ve made the nine-page complaint available on the Documents in the News page on the AEI Liability Project web site.
  3. One hopes the lawsuit will be thrown out eventually, but the Pelman decision (Jan. 27) means that the lawsuit almost certainly won’t be held frivolous or result in sanctions or in anyone being disbarred. But that says more about Pelman and the sorry state of the law than the value of this lawsuit. See Michael Greve’s discussion of the issue in “‘Harm-Less’ Lawsuits?”