Parents seek class action against makers of Fortnite

MONTREAL — Two Quebec parents are seeking the right to launch a class-action lawsuit against the makers of the popular video game Fortnite, alleging it was purposely made highly addictive and has had a lasting impact on their children.

Montreal-based Calex Legal is seeking to sue Epic Games Inc., the U.S. company behind the popular online multiplayer game, as well as its Canadian affiliate based in British Columbia.

The firm filed a request Thursday on behalf of two parents who approached them separately alleging their sons, aged 10 and 15, have become dependent on the game in short order.

Their case likens the addiction to a drug addiction, noting that the World Health Organization made a decision last year to declare video game addiction, or “gaming disorder,” a disease.

Class-action lawyers behind the case drew parallels to a landmark civil suit mounted against the tobacco industry in Quebec that alleged there was an intention to create something addictive without proper warning.

The boys “had all the symptoms of severe dependence — addiction — (and) it caused severe stress in the families as well,” lawyer Alessandra Esposito Chartrand said of the firm’s clients. “It’s the same legal basis (as the tobacco challenges) — the duty to inform about a dangerous product and responsibility of the manufacturer.”

Quebec Superior Court hasn’t approved the action and the allegations have not been tested in court.

A spokesperson for Epic Games was not immediately available for comment.

The filing alleges the game — which had some 250 million players worldwide as of March 2019, according to the manufacturer — was designed specifically to addict users.

“The addiction to the game Fortnite has real consequences on the lives of players, many of whom have developed problems such that they do not eat, do not shower, and no longer socialize,” the filing states.

“Moreover, rehabilitation centres specifically dedicated to addiction to Fortnite have opened all over the world, particularly in Quebec and Canada, to treat people for addiction.”

Of the two parents — identified in the documents only by initials — the parent of the 10-year-old said the boy started playing Fortnite last year and had accumulated more than 1,800 games since December 2018.

“He has been playing Fortnite on an almost daily basis for several months, and he becomes very frustrated and angry when his parents try to limit his playing time,” the filing reads.

The document claims the 15-year-old has played more than 7,700 times since learning about the game in October 2017, and he plays, at minimum, three hours a day.

The older boy ”quickly developed an addiction to Fortnite, playing almost daily (for two years),” the filing states.

Esposito-Chartrand said while the fine print in the company’s terms of service includes a class-action waiver that obliges users to go the route of arbitration to deal with legal problems, such a waiver is illegal in Quebec.

The province’s strict consumer protection laws would also oblige the company to respond to the claim should it be certified.

Any potential compensation would be determined by the court.

The proposed suit covers players residing in Quebec who’ve become addicted since 2017.

The law firm said it’s unclear how widespread the problem is.

Jean-Philippe Caron, the other lawyer handling the case, says several other parents have come forward since the filing has become public.

He said there was no way for the parents to know what their kids were getting into.

“If they would have known exactly the extent of which this game was problematic, they would have taken a different decision,” Caron said of his clients.

“If you haven’t gone through addiction yourself, it’s easy to criticize others. But when you’re in an addiction — there’s a reason there are so many rehabilitation centres.”

Just Posted

RDC Kings soccer clinch playoff spot on final day of ACAC season

Kings play Concordia University of Edmonton on Oct. 25 in ACAC Championships

Frantic final push for votes marks final day of divisive campaign

OTTAWA — The contenders in Monday’s federal election spent the last day… Continue reading

Former NHLer Clint Malarchuk shares mental health journey in Lacombe

Former goalie and current mental health advocate supports Schizophrenia Society of Alberta

Sunday Red Deer election forum on diversity, inclusion cancelled

A Red Deer election forum scheduled for Sunday afternoon has been cancelled.… Continue reading

Boy, 5, dead after being hit by truck his dad was driving at Alberta landfill

LAC LA BICHE, Alta. — Police say a five-year-old boy has died… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Ever since I was a youngster, my life has gone to the dogs

I’ve really been going to the dogs lately. “That’s for sure,” you… Continue reading

By necessity, some stories are sad

One of the comments I received was my columns have gotten away… Continue reading

RDC Kings draw, Queens soccer fall to Kodiaks

The RDC Kings moved one step closer to securing an Alberta Colleges… Continue reading

Scheer won’t say if Conservatives hired consultant to ‘destroy’ People’s party

TORONTO — With election day less than 48 hours away, Andrew Scheer… Continue reading

Man’s death in Richmond, B.C. suspicious, not random, say investigators

RICHMOND, B.C. — The discovery of a man’s body in a Richmond,… Continue reading

Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder… Continue reading

Most Read