Judge Uses Tobacco Analogy in Fortnite Addiction Lawsuit

Canadian judge says class action suit can proceed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2022 7:09 AM CST
Judge Says Fortnite Addiction Lawsuit Can Proceed
A 10-year-old Chicago boy plays "Fortnite."   (AP Photo/Martha Irvine, File)

Lawyers in Canada are urging parents with children addicted to Fortnite to consider joining a class action lawsuit. A judge in Quebec has approved a lawsuit first filed in 2019 from parents who said their children had stopped socializing, sleeping, showering, and eating because they were hooked on the wildly popular online game, the BBC reports. Quebec Superior Court Justice Sylvain Lussier said the legal action against Epic Games and its Canadian subsidiary "does not appear frivolous or manifestly ill-founded." He said players who live in Quebec and experienced symptoms of addiction after playing the game's Battle Royale edition after Sept. 1, 2017 could join the lawsuit.

The lawsuit likens addiction to the game to addiction to tobacco or cocaine. Epic "hired psychologists—they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible," Calex Legal attorney Alessandra Esposito Chartrand told the CBC in 2019. Epic has argued that video game addiction is not a recognized condition in Quebec, but "the harmful effect of tobacco was not recognized or admitted overnight," the judge wrote in a ruling issued Wednesday, per CTV. He wrote that while there's no "certainty" to allegations the game was created to be addictive, that "does not preclude the possibility that the game is in fact addictive and that its creator and distributor are presumed to know this."

The game is free to play, but in-game purchases like "skins" can add up to thousands of dollars. Jean-Philippe Caron, another Calex attorney, says parents and others whose lives have been negatively affected by Fortnite should get in touch, the CBC reports. "Whether it's in their grades in school, an increase in aggression, the fact that they no longer have social contact—so any impact Fortnite had, personally, on the family, on social and educational or professional activities—we invite you to contact us," he says. (Read more Fortnite stories.)

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