CA Man’s Adult Son Is Addicted To Video Games; His Torts Claim Against Sony Is Thrown Out
Last month, the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County issued a minute order that certainly caught our eye. The case is Cherms v. Sony Online Entertainment LLC, and the plaintiff, who represented himself, made an interesting claim:
In this action, plaintiff… alleges he is the father of an adult son who is addicted to video games. The… form-complaint purports to assert causes of action against defendants for general negligence and products liability claiming that the warnings on videogames are insufficient and that plaintiff has suffered emotional distress as a result of his son’s addiction.
Sony responded with a motion to strike, based on California’s anti-SLAPP law, which provides in relevant part that:
A cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike, unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim.
First, Sony made the case that its activities, specifically “developing, publishing and selling videogames are acts” that further their free speech rights, and that “the availability of videogames is an issue of ‘public interest’”, and as a result, the anti-SLAPP statute is applicable here. Next, it argued that there was no “probability that the plaintiff [would] prevail on the claim.”
For one thing, remember that plaintiff was claiming to have personally suffered emotional harm, due to his adult son’s gaming. Here’s the hole in that theory:
[D]efendants contend plaintiff cannot satisfy the prerequisites for “bystander” emotional distress claim since the complaint fails to allege any underlying “physical injury” or any specific “injury-causing event” and since plaintiff could not perceive any injury to his son at the time it allegedly occurred.
The court agrees with this assertion, noting that for plaintiff’s argument to succeed, he would have to have been “physically present at the scene of the injury-producing event when it occurs and be contemporaneously aware it is causing harm.” There was no evidence to support this, so the plaintiff’s argument fails.
The opinion also notes that “plaintiff has also failed to produce admissible evidence which could support a judgment in his favor”, and therefore his “probability of prevailing” is zero, and Sony’s motion to strike is granted.