Fine Print: Lawyers Get $1M, you get (up to) 35 bucks in Hot Coffee Deal

January 28, 2008 -
As the gaming press widely reported recently, Take Two has settled a class-action lawsuit filed against it in the wake of the 2005 Hot Coffee scandal.

Gaming Steve has dug into the fine print of the deal and discovered that the big winners are - surprise! - lawyers:
Any US citizen who was officially "offended and upset" by the ability to unlock [the Hot Coffee] content can now claim up to $35 in compensation. The exact amount you may be entitled depends upon directly upon how much documentation you have of your "outrage"...

Curious about this lawsuit I actually went through the trouble to download the many long and detailed legal documents when I came across this little gem on page 11:


E. Attorneys’ Fees, Costs and Disbursements. Finally, as mentioned above, only this past Friday, the Parties agreed on an amount to compensate Plaintiffs’ Counsel for attorneys’ fees and costs and disbursements in the amount of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000), the entire amount of which will be paid separate and apart from any amounts made available for payment to the Class and Class Representatives, as set forth above.


Comments

@FyrHotBurnKitty

Whilst I back up your attack on generalisations about lawyers, it is worth bearing in mind that for most of the people here, their only experience with what represents a lawyer is Jack Thompson, probably the most ineffectual, insulting and incompetent lawyer that has ever (eventually) passed the Bar Exam.

It's not fair to compare all lawyers with that insult to founding of the New World, but that's human nature.

So, I do agree that people shouldn't generalise lawyers, a lot of people blame the lawyers for trying to get unconstitutional laws passed, and forget that lawyers are also the ones defending the constitution. I don't think Hot Coffee was really worth Class-Actioning on to honest, and I do think it was 'done for the money', however, that doesn't make lawyers 'evil' it makes them lawyers, it is their own choice what they choose to do with that name, not ours.

@GoodRobotUs

I totally understand that people get the wrong idea about lawyers from the Jack Thompsons of the world. That's the problem: The good lawyers seldom get airtime. It's like the news footage after a hurricane - who always gets on TV? You KNOW who the news crews always interview: THAT guy. You know the guy. "It was pandelerium!" (Ever listen to Jeff Foxworthy? Great bit, that one.) But yes, the good lawyers seldom get the same coverage, and the ridiculous TV shows like Boston Legal and Ally McBeal and the like only make it worse. (Those people would be fired. Period.)

I do agree that this lawsuit was not the best. The thing is that the legal system does have built-in safeguards against frivolous lawsuits. Sure, anyone can FILE anything. And sometimes big corporations (like this one) decide it will be easier to settle just to pay people off to get rid of it. They have whole departments that create equations to see if it's worth fighting any given suit. But to get all the way through trial, really, you have to pass certain barriers: summary judgments, judgments as a matter of law, failures to state a claim, etc. So frivolous suits GENERALLY don't get through, though a few may slip through the cracks. It's not a perfect system, but it's better than anything anyone else has come up with.

So while I do apologize for any excess vitreole that I may have added in that comment, I must admit that as a 3L law student, being compared to Jack Thompson just because of my future profession makes my blood boil. Much the same way being compared to murderers and idiots makes gamers red in the face. I plan on being one of the good guy gamer lawyers come November of this year. So I felt obliged to defend my future profession from generalities. ;D

A.

Am I eligible? I tried to use a GameShark to unlock Hot Coffee so I could be all "upset and offended", but I couldn't get it to work.

I was upset by the gimp suit and offended by the purple phallus... is that good enough for a few bucks?

Oh, and to those overly concerned about the rights of sex-workers in video games.... didja know that in the game NetHack, I was bedding down with succubi to increase my stats, then slaying them to get my gold back ... 10 YEARS BEFORE GTA?!?!?

@ Chris Wallace, Lawyer

The bottom line is that lawyers are taking in a seven figure cut while the people they claim to be "protecting" are getting a paltry $35. You also know full well how much lawyers charge per hour for their "services".

Cry me a river.

@Zerodash

Not so much 'crying a river' as it was to provide some insight. Frankly, I thought that was what the forums were all about.

If you feel that the services provided by lawyers are not valuable, then you have the ultimate power to never retain counsel.

Keep in mind that the services are typically conducted in times of high stress or high personal risk for the client(s) with long working hours for the lawyer(s).

[...] GamePolitics - Fine Print: Lawers Get 1M, You Get (up to) $35 Bucks in Hot Coffee Deal  As the gaming press widely reported recently, Take Two has settled a class-action lawsuit filed against it in the wake of the 2005 Hot Coffee scandal. [...]

I don't blame lawyers for getting compensation for doing white-collar work for a long period of time. Practicing law is a profession and like any other profession, there are those who fight for righteousness and those who work for profit or power and many do their jobs for many reasons, money, morality and prestige all being a piece of the pie. It's disingenuous to claim all lawyers are money-grubbing hellspawns, though fun. Many are actually quite low-paid for all the loans they must pay on top of their bills, and many do their work to help those less fortunate than even you and I.

People who don't understand the law but deserve a chance to be heard all the same, people who without the law would get not a semblance of justice for the wrong others perpetrated upon them, people who know they have a case against a powerful person or business or agency but can't afford the sort of high-priced lawyers their opponents have, these are some of the people, the ordinary people who can from time to time get the aid of lawyers willing to serve their community and country for a higher purpose than greed. These defenders of liberty and justice are ALSO lawyers, and they are not evil.

Zerodash,

As previously mentioned, $1 million is not a lot of money when one considers how much time and effort and money in fees the lawyers have to give to make sure the case goes well.

So when you talk about how $35 is a drop in the bucket, I'd say that it's actually accurate, from my own estimation, and quite fair, unless you think the offense taken to a mere game, something one can turn off and delete at any time, is worth some huge sum in the thousands or even tens of thousands. I think it's worth a bit less than a refund of the game in question, taking into account deteriorating retail value and $35 seems to fit the bill.

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