An Alabama judge has denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Take-Two by the families of two police officers and a dispatcher killed by a Grand Theft Auto-playing teenager.
Judge James Moore's decision to let the case go to trial will come as a blow to the defendants, following an earlier victory when notorious anti-videogame campaigner and lawyer Jack Thompson withdrew from the case. Judge Moore also revoked Thompson's right to practice law in the state.
The lawsuit, which names Sony, Rockstar, Wal-Mart and GameStop alongside Take-Two, was filed in February 2005. According to a statement issued by Thompson, the plaintiffs are seeking "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damages, and Moore's latest decision means "the way is now clear" for a jury trial.
Thompson claims that he wrote to Take-Two some years ago to warn them that Grand Theft Auto games were "virtual reality killing simulators" that would cause teenagers to commit murder. According to Thompson, the fact that the company ignored the warnings makes them liable for "huge punitive damages". Thompson also believes that although he is no longer acting as a lawyer for the plaintiffs, he will "likely be a witness in the case."
"One of the purposes of the Alabama case, which is expected to be tried in 2006, is to stop the sale of these games to kids, which is in fact the law in Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand," Thompson stated.
"The way is now clear for plaintiffs to wade through defendants’ files regarding what they knew and when they knew it about the danger to public safety posed by these murder simulation games."