Controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson has indicated that he plans to file a video game-related lawsuit today against electronics retailer Best Buy in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Thompson, embroiled in an increasingly desperate struggle with the Florida Bar to save his law license, asserts that Best Buy is selling M-rated games to minors.
He will base his suit on Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act which he claimsthat Best Buy is violating by offering M-rated games for sale on its website. In a letter to the retailer’s corporate counsel, Thompson writes:
Best Buy, despite promises made to the American people and to me personally, has continued to sell Mature-rated video games to children under seventeen years of age. Best Buy has been doing this at its cash registers here in Miami, Florida, and it is presently doing so, this very moment, at www.bestbuy.com, as it sells Mature-rated games to anyone of any age with no real age verification whatsoever.
This constitutes a Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice, under Florida and other states’ laws, because your company/client has been telling the public it age IDs buyers of such games who appear to be 21 or under while in fact it does not uniformly do so…
Thompson also indicated that he will seek to make the lawsuit a class action, which would require him to locate other plaintiffs.
GP: Best Buy’s online sales practices are similar to those of other video game retailers. The assumption is that most under-17’s do not possess a credit card. The Federal Trade Commission, by the way, deems the use of a credit card as acceptable proof of age in online transactions. From the FTC website:
Operators must use reasonable procedures to ensure they are dealing with the child’s parent before they provide access to the child’s specific information. They can use a variety of methods to verify the parent’s identity, including:
…accepting and verifying a credit card number…
Moreover, Best Buy’s website is probably the strongest in terms of content awareness among any of the major video game retailers. ESRB ratings are prominently displayed as are content summaries from watchdog group Common Sense Media.