In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony Violated Free Speech and Stole His Money

July 21, 2009 -

A PlayStation 3 gamer has filed suit in U.S. District Court in California, alleging that SCEA suppressed his free speech rights and caused him pain and suffering by banning his account on the PlayStation Network.

In a complaint filed on July 6th, Erik Estavillo of San Jose writes that he his disabled by a variety of disorders; among these are agoraphobia, a fear of crowds:

The pain and suffering was caused by the defendant, Sony, banning the plaintiff's account on the PlayStation 3 Network, in which the plaintiff relies on to socialize with other people, since it's the only way the plaintiff can truly socialize since he also suffers from Agoraphobia...

Estavillo's issues with SCEA apparently stem from his play of the PS3 hit Resistance: Fall of Man:

The ban is supposedly due to the behavior of the plaintiff when he plays the video game "Resistance: Fall of Man," which Sony owns and employs moderators for its online play. These moderators kick and ban players that they feel are deserving; though their biases to a player seem to be what determines the kick or ban...

 

The plaintiff was exercising his First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech in the game's public forum when he was banned from, not only [Resistance], but also banned from playing all other games online via the PlayStation Network...

Estavillo also claims that the PSN ban amounts to a theft of his pre-paid points:

The plaintiff...cannot access [his] money when a moderator from Resistance and Sony gives a player a arbitrary wide-range ban... which in essence, is stealing money from the player...

Estavillo also argues that the EULA for online play of Resistance is ineffective in blocking players under the game's recommended age of 17, although it's unclear how this fits into his claim.

In his request to the court, Estavillo, who appears to be unrepresented, asks that SCEA be enjoined from banning players. He also seeks $55,000 in punitive damages.

To date, SCEA has not filed a response with the Court. GamePolitics has requested comment on the lawsuit from SCEA.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of Estavillo vs. SCEA here...


Comments

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

Resistance was made by the same people who made Ratchet and Clank.

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

SOE did customer service for FFXI at their San Diego office. Back then EQ, SWG, and FFXI customer service was all in the same building.

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

Weird.  Since FFXI was multiplatform, I would have guessed that Square would have handled the customer service across all platforms instead of letting SOE handle it.  Do you know if Microsoft handled FFXI customer service on the Xbox?

First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. -Greek Proverb

First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. -Greek Proverb

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

No, I think Josepth4th is mistaken about FFXI, SOE wern't involved in that game at all. Customer service for all versions of FFXI was handled by PlayOnline which is Square's company.

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

Unless I'm very much mistaken, the first amendment refers only to the government, doesn't it?

Private companies can do as they wish.

"We never paid any heed to the ancient prophecies... Like fools we clung to the old hatreds, and fought as we had for generations"

"We never paid any heed to the ancient prophecies... Like fools we clung to the old hatreds, and fought as we had for generations"

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

Yes.

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

Not to suggest that Mr. Estavillo has a legal leg upon which to stand, but it's not necessarily so cut and dried. Yes, a valid claim of an abrigement of a First Amendment right does require so-called "state action." But that requirement of state action could, in some circumstances, be satisfied by the action of a wholly non-government entity provided they are acting for and with the approval of the government. For example, if a state univeristy campus has been used as a "public forum," then the public is entitled to reasonably use that forum for the expression of speech (which is why crazies like Fred Phelps like to set up shop on the campus of the University of Kansas). If, for example, a private security firm employed by the university was to unreasonably drag a speaker off the campus in mid-speech, then that action by the non-government entity (i.e., the private security firm) could well be attributable to the state university as one done by its agent with their approval. If so, then the requirement of state action is satisfied.

A similiar notion is expressed in 42 USC 1983 which forbids the violation of a person's civil rights by another person "acting under color of state law." It's also called the Klu Klux Klan Act and has its genesis in the fact that during post-Reconstruction the Klan was often used by the Southern states as unofficial agents for depriving the newly-freed slaves of their civil rights. That the Klan was facially a private organization didn't matter, as long as their actions were with sanction of the state (the county sheriff by day often being a Klan member by night). 

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

In both of those examples, there was a state presence, whether being on public sanctioned land as in the first example, or by being a public representative as in the second part. In the case of this, there was no state presence exhibited. At no point is anyone in authority working for the state nor is any public sactioned land or state property being used.

Not dismissing your statements, just clarifying how futile his claim is. Personally, I would think any decent lawyer would look at this, say "are you f---ing kidding me?" and drop any involvement in the case.

Re: In Lawsuit, Banned Resistance Player Alleges that Sony ...

"Not to suggest that Mr. Estavillo has a legal leg upon which to stand" was my more charitable way of saying that he's got to be f---ing kidding me.

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