The man who sued NCsoft for his addiction to Lineage II has scored a victory of sorts after a judge ruled that the game’s End User License Agreement doesn’t preclude him from launching a lawsuit and seeking damages.

What do you do after you’ve sunk 20,000 hours of your life into an MMO and rendered yourself a useless, non-functioning piece of garbage who can’t be bothered to bathe, get dressed or even communicate with your fellow human beings? If you’re Craig Smallwood of Hawaii, you sue the company that made the game for failing to warn people that playing an MMO can be dangerous. It sounds ridiculous, but Smallwood’s action has cleared its first legal hurdle: Despite NCsoft’s assertion that the EULA forbids such lawsuits, the judge in the case has decided to let it go ahead.

The Lineage II user license states that “in no event shall NC Interactive … be liable to you or to any third party for any special, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages … regardless of the theory of liability” arising from the use of its service. But rather than dismiss the suit, Judge Alan C. Kay “noted that both Texas and Hawaii law bar contract provisions that waive in advance the ability to make gross-negligence claims.” As a result, he ruled that Smallwood’s case may proceed.

The judge also allowed Smallwood’s claims for negligence, defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress to stand, although as lawyer Steve Roosa noted on the Freedom to Tinker blog, “The fact that the gross negligence claims survived is significant in and of itself, but in reality having the right to sue for ‘gross negligence’ is the functional equivalent of having the right to sue for straight-up negligence as well – thus radically broadening the scope of claims that (according to the court) cannot be waived in a User Agreement.”

The ruling has no bearing on the merits of the lawsuit itself but Roosa noted that it could have an impact on future cases, writing, “The Smallwood decision, if it stands, may achieve some lasting significance in the software license wars.” A full copy of the ruling is available from (PDF format)

Source: The Register

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