A Quebec judge authorizes a class action against the “addictive” video game Fortnite |  Globalnews.ca

A Quebec judge authorizes a class action against the “addictive” video game Fortnite | Globalnews.ca

A Superior Court judge has authorized a lawsuit brought by Quebec parents who allege their children have become addicted to the popular online video game Fortnite.

Judge Sylvain Lussier issued the decision on Wednesday after hearing arguments in July regarding the class action lawsuit of three parents who described how their children exhibited symptoms of severe addiction after playing the game.

“The court concludes that there is a serious question to be argued, supported by sufficient and specific allegations as to the existence of risks or even dangers arising from the use of Fortnite”, ruled the judge, noting that the action “does not appear frivolous”. or manifestly ill-founded.

The company that filed the lawsuit, Montreal-based Calex Legal, drew parallels to a landmark civil suit brought against the tobacco industry in Quebec, which alleged intent to create something addictive without proper warning.

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“Our motion was heavily inspired by the tobacco motion only in terms of what we allege,” attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand said in an interview. The legal liability of the manufacturer is “essentially the same”, she added.

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The parents alleged that the game was deliberately made highly addictive and had a lasting effect on their children, but the court didn’t go that far.

“The court finds that there is no evidence for these allegations of deliberately creating an addictive game,” the judge noted. “This does not exclude the possibility that the game is in fact addictive and that its designer and distributor are presumed to know about it.”

One of the parents, identified by his initials in the documents, said his son had played 6,923 games and became angry when his parents tried to limit his playing time, including locking the computer . Another child played more than 7,700 times in two years playing at least three hours a day. All reported behavioral issues.

The judge authorized the lawsuit for all players residing in Quebec since September 1, 2017, who became addicted after playing Fortnite Battle Royale, made by the American company Epic Games Inc., presenting a multitude of repercussions on the activities, including family, social, school or professional.

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

A second category of the class action will relate to in-game purchases, with the court saying that shoppers under the age of 18 may be eligible for restitution and refunds of their money.

On Wednesday, Esposito Chartrand said 200 people showed up.

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

The company’s lawyers had argued in court that the evidence provided was insufficient and that video game addiction is not a recognized condition in Quebec, adding that the American Psychiatric Association says there is no not enough evidence to classify it as a single mental disorder.

The judge said those issues would be argued on their merits, but noted that the World Health Organization in 2018 declared video game addiction, or “gaming disorder,” a disease.

“The fact that American psychiatrists have called for more research or that this diagnosis has not yet been officially recognized in Quebec does not render the claims in question ‘frivolous’ or ‘unsubstantiated’,” writes Lussier.

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

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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