Michigan ordered to pay legal fees in game law case

Judge tells the state it must give more than $180,000 to a trio of industry trade groups to reimburse them for the cost of having a contested law overturned.

by

Any arcade-goer of the Street Fighter II era will be familiar with the "winner stays, loser pays" rule of thumb, and it's one the Entertainment Software Association has been invoking in its many legal battles every chance it gets.

The ESA--along with the Entertainment Merchants Association and the Michigan Retailers Association--won a court case against the state of Michigan in March, convincing a US district court judge to declare the state's restrictions on selling violent games to minors unconstitutional. As a result, the trio of trade groups sought to make Michigan cough up reimbursements for their legal fees, much as Illinois, Indiana, and Washington were ordered to pay legal fees after their game laws were declared unconstitutional.

Yesterday Judge George Caram Steeh granted the trade groups' motion for reimbursement, ordering the state to pay a total of $182,349.14, according to court records. The trade groups had sought almost $220,000 in attorney's fees, but the judge reduced the award, in part because they reused many of the same arguments and court documents that had been prepared for the Illinois case months earlier.

In response to the ruling, ESA president Douglas Lowenstein chastised legislators for their continued efforts to pass and defend violent game restrictions in a statement.

"States that pass laws regulating video game sales might as well just tell voters they have a new way to throw away their tax dollars on wasteful and pointless political exercises that do nothing to improve the quality of life in the state," Lowenstein said. "In nine out of nine cases in the past six years, judges have struck down these clearly unconstitutional laws, and in each instance ESA has or will recover its legal fees from the states. What's worse, the politicians proposing and voting for these laws know this will be the outcome."

This brings the amount of legal fees states have been ordered to cough up in such cases over the $1.5 million mark. However, not every state has paid up. Illinois was ordered to pay more than $500,000 after its law was overturned (the ESA sought more than $644,000), but the state has yet to deliver the funds, saying it is "actively trying to identify the proper funding source and appropriation for the award amount."

Discussion

76 comments
Max_Hydrogen
Max_Hydrogen

Excellent! The courts are ludice; take that Libermann and Thompson, ha!

Imconfused2007
Imconfused2007

That law hasnt bothered me at all. When I buy M games, Im only carded about 25% of the time anyway. Now their is no reason, and it could probably be unlawful, to not sell games to minors.

sieg6529
sieg6529

Oooooooooooooooooh we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan..........

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

I hope decisions like this one in court happen more often. Hopefully the cost to the taxpayers will result in voting stupid politicians out of office. The fact that those states haven't paid up yet and saying it is "actively trying to identify the proper funding source and appropriation for the award amount" just means they are very concerned about passing it back on to the their taxpayers :lol: The message here is LEAVE VIDEOGAMES ALONE.

BIGboss600
BIGboss600

these people have nothing better to do boycot oprah not videogames!

dragkill
dragkill

"Agreed. My questions in all of these stupid laws are: Where are the rights of the parents? And above all, what is it about the ESRB and the voluntary use of it that is so wrong?" Nothing. They just want the control of people's lives in their hands. (Not literally, but they want more control of what the people do).

Madrone
Madrone

Although I think that under 17 year olds shouldn't purchase M rated games without an adult, I am strongly against laws preventing them to do so. #1, I do not want a non governmental body (ESRB) having governmental powers saying what is legally appropiate for children #2 I definately do not the government to regulate an industry that has zero serious links to violence. (Some guy playing GTA and having some chemicals go off in their head isnt a serious link that cuases violence,) Ideally the industry will get its act together and willl be more like the movie industry and self regulate more,

Scorpion16
Scorpion16

"You'll see that the overturned law was one that would make it illegal for stores to sell violent games to people under 17 (in other words, no M rated games for the kiddies). Why the hell would you applaud such laws from being overturned? These are exactly the kinds of laws we need to start passing in order to get violent video games out of the hands of children. Granted, they can't stop the parents from buying the games for the children, but we do need to keep stores from selling these games to children." The stores don't have a responsibility to parent the kids. Many small game stores need the money to stay in bussiness. This law is unconstitutional, a form of censorship, and brings us closer to becoming a police state. Kids should be allowed to play violent games. They don't mess up your lungs and liver like Tobacco and alcohol do so stop this bull****. "It's not like they're trying to make it illegal to sell a violent video game to anyone, despite age. THEN you all should have a problem with it. But as far as I'm concerned, the ESA is a bunch of idiots. " No your an idiot for agreeing with Jack Thompson that we need the government to stick it's nose in something that's none of it's bussiness.

reddog00
reddog00

I live in Canton, Michigan and I moved here in 1982. The state has gone to hell in a hand basket. State officials should be more concerned with keeping and creating jobs in this state as the auto industry has been taking a dump for quite awhile now. The "Motor City" is quickly turning into the "Motorless City". It did not take a hurricane Katrina to wipe out our livelihood. Just some misguided and idiotic public officials who cannot tell their hind end from a hole in the ground! Why officials concentrate on a subject like this when there are so many more highly important issues cripling our state is beyond me. My only salvation is that I am only 45 minutes from Canada! That is quickly looking like a smart and viable solution to escaping the mediocrity and bleak future here in Michigan.

cid67
cid67

If you read the linked article here: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6147061.html You'll see that the overturned law was one that would make it illegal for stores to sell violent games to people under 17 (in other words, no M rated games for the kiddies). Why the hell would you applaud such laws from being overturned? These are exactly the kinds of laws we need to start passing in order to get violent video games out of the hands of children. Granted, they can't stop the parents from buying the games for the children, but we do need to keep stores from selling these games to children. It's not like they're trying to make it illegal to sell a violent video game to anyone, despite age. THEN you all should have a problem with it. But as far as I'm concerned, the ESA is a bunch of idiots. ========================Response========================== My problem isnt the nature of the law and i Dont know if it applies to this law but many of these laws have tried to re label these games as adults only and it has been the position of many large stores such as walmart to not carry games with this label so if that happens no one will make these games because the will not be economicly viable. so the people who should be allowed to play these games will be denied by default.

T00HuMaN
T00HuMaN

I also live in michigan...SCREW OUR GOVERNMENT

Wolverine77
Wolverine77

I live in michigan, and I hate our goverment here. They are all self righteous activists. Now they have cost the people of michigan 182,000 extra dollars.

MASTERCHIEFUSMA
MASTERCHIEFUSMA

the reason Illinois hasnt paid is because it cant, i should know i live in illinois, our budget is horrible

123metallica
123metallica

In the end the Lawyer win the fight and laugh all the way to the bank.

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

they should pay for the fees, they are the ones who wanted to fight for a hopeless law that will never be passed without breaking constitional rights. besides its the parents job not the goverment.

The_SSun
The_SSun

These are exactly the kinds of laws we need to start passing in order to get violent video games out of the hands of children. Not really. Because it isn't the Governments Job to do that,it's the parents job. The last study I saw said that 80%+ of M rated games were sold to legal adults or with adults in the store with the minor. And that number is slightly misleading due to the fact that 17 is legally a minor but M rating stands for 17 and up. So minors walking in by themselves and buying M rated games doesn't happen all that often. No is law is needed to deal with the few times it does,simply parents keeping an eye on what their kids play and buy would be more then enough. They're idiots because they're not going to stand around and be used as a scape goat for parents who don't bother to educate themselves on the issue?

DesRed
DesRed

Looks like some of these states are not willing to accept defeat. Just pay what you owe to those trade groups and admit that it is impossible to pass video game legislation. And I agree with Lowenstein's statement. The act of proposing these legislation is a waste of money and time. Those politicians should really practice some common sense.

wildnine00
wildnine00

Is the law this crazy in other countries?

Cloud737
Cloud737

Tax money down the drain, just so politicians get more votes. It makes me sick! "but the state has yet to deliver the funds, saying it is "actively trying to identify the proper funding source and appropriation for the award amount."" Lol, out of tax money? Maybe now you will try not to pass stupid laws.

Williedude87
Williedude87

Lowenstein said it perfectly. This is a case where politicians are creating totall lose-lose situations for everybody just to get themselves votes from ignorant parents.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Look where you're money goes. Sometimes, I'm happy that I don't live in the US.

Kfoss
Kfoss

OUCH talk about ESA giving the smack down to Mich. Thats aweseome!..GO GO GO GO ESA GO!

MasterAsh42
MasterAsh42

Awesome. . .just awesome. Politicians respond to money, whether its given or taken away, whether their own or that of which they represent.

Brian_WCU
Brian_WCU

Hopefully the counter-sues for fees will keep some states from going through the loseing cause, but I doubt it.

StumpyTrash
StumpyTrash

Yet another bunch of worthless politicians wasting our tax dollars for political gain with ignorant people... something has GOT to change!

cricketboy2238
cricketboy2238

At crunchb3rry - I'd like to see Bush take a tour through DelRay in Southwest Detroit and say that we're economically stable. And you're right - Flint's a mess. At least Detroit is on the rise again, and actually has numerous good neighborhoods. I have relatives in Flint and I've never seen any neighborhoods that looked livable. Despite stereotypes, some of the biggest houses and wealthiest neighborhoods I've ever seen are in Detroit, specifically around the Golf Club, Indian Village, Rosedale Park, Old Redford, and the awesome new lofts downtown (of which I'm an owner). Can't say as much for Flint. Detroit still has some perfect examples of being "down on the times". The Broderick Tower, The Whitney building, the Wurlitzer, and most of the Book Tower have all sat vacant for too many years to count, and Midtown is only just seeing something of a bonified gentrification.

littlewiese
littlewiese

I think this idea should be put toward every lawsuit gaming or otherwise. you sue mcdonalds for making you fat you lose you pay for their legal fees, you smoke get cancer sue and lose you pay for legal fees. It would cut back on alot of stupid lawsuits that take money from other things and judges and time away from real problems. Instead of video games made my kid shoot somebody instead of you never said no to them or mcdonalds made me fat instead of I cant stop eating cause its so good. winner stays loser pays.

the_real_VIP
the_real_VIP

Now, all the states in the US should do what California and this Michigan judge did: make losers pay the legal fees of the winner. This should force people into thinking twice before they go to court for stupid cases.

Mechakucha
Mechakucha

"New York is smarter, instead of wasting that money on pointless court cases, we are buying graphing calculators for our public schools" Wow, you're only now just doing that?! Talk about being behind the times!!

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

Detroit is a mess? Flint looks like Bordertown from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. I kinda wish George Bush would take a personal tour of Flint, Detroit...and maybe squeeze in a visit to Saginaw. Then he can stop with that crap about how our economy is strong and how he created lots of great jobs (ie: part time, minimum wage, no benefits). Michigan is going to be one massive slum town once Japan leaves the combustion engine behind and we're still churning out ugly pimp trucks that need a full tank of gas to get to the end of the driveway.

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

I feel so sorry for the Michiganders. Lol, I love this word! You should all elect this same party the hella outta the next election, unless the opposing party is going to make some reform that is really undesirable for your lifestyle.

InfectX
InfectX

"Michigander" is what we call ourselves ;)

grasu
grasu

Michigander? Are Americans trying to invent words again?

MysticGenie
MysticGenie

As a Michigander, I'm angry at the legislators for wasting my hard earn tax dollars making these unconstitutional laws, having almost absolute knowledge that they won't stand up in court. But I'm glad the ESA got paid. The next time they propose this ridiculous legislation, I hope the judge will force them to foot the bill instead of the taxpayers.

Colsworl
Colsworl

Cough up the money and tell your voters about what your made up ''law'' has done. What type of law was that? Unconstitutional is right. I feel bad for these states tax-payers but thats what happens when you get pricks of polititions and there are a lot of them no dought. Hopefully this might prevent more polititions from trying to make a ''law'' like this in the futre.

Scorpion16
Scorpion16

It should serve them right although I feel bad for the Michigan tax payers.

blueflamedino
blueflamedino

SAMLST you are right. And to think that money can be used on better things. It's sad that we are paying to limit the sales of videogames and advertising for the US army, marines and navy yet our soldiers in Iraq doesn't have proper equipment like flaks and armor for transport vehicles .............................................................................................................. New York is smarter, instead of wasting that money on pointless court cases, we are buying graphing calculators for our public schools

CaptainLunchbox
CaptainLunchbox

Gonna agree with cricketboy here. Detroit is a mess. Head down to the Wayne State campuses and look at the outlying neighborhoods. It's a damn shame. We need a new governor, too.

SAMLST
SAMLST

This is what these **** **** are spending our tax dollars on!? Jesus Christ. It's communist! :) not letting parents decide what games their kids play. And they say violent video games make you go kill people. If games have that effect on you you are already mental. They think they know more than the parents of these kids, like they know how we should lives our lives. Seriously though, that is kind of communist.

TryMe01
TryMe01

"winner stays, loser pays" that is an awesome rule. the amount paid is only small change for a company like midway

topgunmv
topgunmv

Cricketboy, screw U of M, they already have enough money.

Zer0mancer
Zer0mancer

Thank GOD! I really dislike goverment telling me what I should or should not allow my kids to play.

cricketboy2238
cricketboy2238

This is a big waste of our money. Michigan's economy is dwindling. The money would have gone to a much greater good if they had invested it into something worthwhile, like aiding the apartment complexes being built all over the city of Detroit, gentrifying its neighborhoods. But no, we've got to spend $180,000 fighting some stupid video game law that does nothing more than let parents keep on doing what they're already doing - NOT looking at the label on the box. We can aid Grand Rapids, give the money to U of M in Ann Arbor, use the money to renovate the deteriorating Detroit Public School System and use it as incentives to bring business back downtown. This is ridiculous.