NY Times Probes Legal Fees in Hot Coffee Class-action Settlement

The New York Times takes a look at the controversy surrounding legal fees sought by attorneys in the Hot Coffee class-action suit.

Seth Lesser, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told the NYT he was disappointed that only 2,676 buyers of GTA San Andreas filed claims:

Am I disappointed? Sure. We can’t guess as to why now, several years later, people care or don’t care. The merits of the case were clear… The game was sold as something that it wasn’t.

As previously reported by GamePolitics (see: Did Lawyers Inflate Fees in Hot Coffee Class-action Suit?), Lesser and his legal colleagues are seeking $1.3 in fees. Meanwhile, defense attorneys for GTA publisher Take-Two say it only cost them $30,000 to defend the case.

University of Kentucky law prof Mary Davis told the Times:

It doesn’t typically go that way. [To have legal fees far exceed what plaintiffs receive] is sort of backwards.

Ted Frank, an attorney who also writes for the Overlawyered blog, commented:

There are two possibilities. Possibility one is they have a meritorious lawsuit and they’re selling out the class for attorneys’ fees. The other possibility is that, and frankly I think this is the more likely possibility, they brought a meritless lawsuit that had no business being brought to court at all.

The Times also ponders why GTA’s non-stop violence is seemingly more acceptable than the Hot Coffee sex animations. Here the newspaper turns to Craig Anderson, an Iowa State prof whose research on game violence and aggression is accepted in some quarters, disputed in others:

For some reason sex is seen as more harmful to kids than violence. The irony is that in terms of the research literature on harmful effects of various forms of media, television, movies, video games, the research is very, very clear. There are significant short-term and long-term effects of violent content.

A hearing on the proposed settlement is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Manhattan today.

UPDATE: Overlawyered’s Ted Frank posts his impressions of the June 25th hearing…

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  1. 0
    desperad0 says:

    Thanks good job;

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs. and dizi izle


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.

  2. 0
    oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  3. 0
    Gabriel Celesta says:

    Aww, since I still have my copy of GTA:SA that I bought I think in late ’04, I must have contributed to Lesser’s disappointment. Poor dude…

  4. 0
    sherman says:

    "agreeance"? Surely, my good man, you are shucking. This is no typo. ‘Tis a robust Tom-Wolfian Joyceisim. A fluent wigbonicist you are – and good upon you.

  5. 0
    Wes Grogan says:

    Mysticgamer, no receipt was needed to get a $5 refund through the settlement. That all of it added up to such a small amount is testament to the recent trend: showing respect to gamers rather than antagonism pays off in the long run. A hell of a lot more people could have signed up for the free $5 but didn’t, and that says something. Rockstar and Stardock are two companies that have shown a fair bit of respect and understanding with their customer install base and both have benefited from doing so. Let’s face it, if this were EA having to give out $5 to anyone who asked for it, there would have been a LOT more takers just as a matter of principle.

    Frankly, I never really cared about Hot Coffee. If it weren’t a modification issue I -=MIGHT=- be a bit more concerned, but I doubt it. It was tame, to say the least, and Mass Effect proved that you could indeed put sex in video games. I’m glad there weren’t more than 2,676 people taking advantage of the situation. Maybe 1,000 or so of these people were even really concerned about it. I doubt it, though.

  6. 0
    Mysticgamer says:

    Seth Lesser, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told the NYT he was disappointed that only 2,676 buyers of GTA San Andreas filed claims

    That’s because most gamers beat the game and traded it for store credit years ago and they sure as hell didn’t keep the reciept.

  7. 0
    Anonymous says:

    They were in it for the money, not for performing some kind of social service. They saw a cash-cow and tried to milk it, and personally, I hope they exposed for exactly what they are.

  8. 0
    Ken ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Those are the 2.676 people who want to cash in for some bullshit reason. Everyone else is smart enough to realize the game is for mature people, not a bunch of little SOBs.

  9. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Bit of a boo boo on my part.  I forgot that the Nudity descriptor was added when the game was rerated AO.  Of course, there was no actual nudity in the game in any version.  Cleavage and thongs don’t count in my mind.


    Andrew Eisen

  10. 0
    Ben says:

    Actually Andrew, my copy of San Andreas does not have nudity as a description on the back of the box. Maybe thats just because I got the first version of San Andreas. Either way, the whole Hot Coffee fiasco was over-sensationalized and over-blown.

    People need to stop being offended so easily. If your childs being a sneaky little bastatard, don’t whine to Rockstar about it.

  11. 0
    DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The sad thing is, stupid people interpret that bolded part as something it isn’t, misinterpreting the word ‘sexual.’

  12. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    The game was sold as something that it wasn’t.

    Really?  Let’s see:

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Rated M17+

    Blood and Gore
    Intense Violence
    Strong Language
    Strong Sexual Content, Nudity
    Use of Drugs

    Okay, now explain to me how that game was sold as something it wasn’t.


    Andrew Eisen

  13. 0

    I dunno, I haven’t been able to eat sea food ever since I saw the Little Mermaid when I was seven years old. Just hearing the word "flounder" makes me think of that yellow and blue fish. Okay, it might actually be more about the smell, taste and texture of sea food. <_< The only fish I can manage to eat is at Long John Silver and I don’t think that even counts as fish in the first place.

    EDIT: Oh wait, I forgot that I like Tuna Salad too… >_> Though again, the "tuna" in that can might also be dolphin which is a mammal so maybe that too doesn’t count! WOOOT!!

  14. 0
    BmK ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    IMHO Violent media research is nothing more then psuedoscientific bullshit anyways. Man, i really wish Penn & Teller would do an episode about it just to show how extremely weak, inconsistant, incredibly flawed and biased these studies are. People are fundamentally psychologically different from one another and how they react to different stimulus. How one form of media effects one person and shapes their thoughts and feelings can be totally different from how if effects another persons thoughts and feelings.

  15. 0
    mogbert says:

    "The irony is that in terms of the research literature on harmful effects of various forms of media, television, movies, video games, the research is very, very clear. There are significant short-term and long-term effects of violent content."

    Exqueeze me? Please cite your reference. The research is very, very muddled and at odds with similar research. There are short term effects that may be similar to watching Old Yeller. No long term effects have ever been found, and the empirical evidence based on the rising amount of violence in media and the constantly lessening of youth violence is that the only long term effect is healthy.

    Now, someone tell this to the NYT, before they continue to spread FUD.

  16. 0
    Adrian Lopez ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "We can’t guess as to why now, several years later, people care or don’t care. The merits of the case were clear… The game was sold as something that it wasn’t."

    Perhaps most people aren’t as opportunistic as yourself and therefore chose not to pursue what they know is an unjust lawsuit in exchange for a free game?

  17. 0
    Keith K says:

    Seems to me like the legal industry (note: NOT the justice system) is coming to terms with what the gaming industry and gamers alike saw coming at the inception of this class action suit. Just a bunch of silver spoon greedy lawyers putting their fingers in a pie that isn’t theirs.

    Of course this isn’t news, but it is surprising to hear acknowledgement of this foul from their side. Take Two should really fire back with a suit of their own.

  18. 0
    Robb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The lawsuit isn’t just meritless.  It is counter to the class it supposedly represents.  Out of the million+ that bought it, .002676 (assuming Only 1 million sold) of the represented class actually AGREED with the suit.  That 1.3 million asking price should be awarded to all of the owners of the 1st edition of San Andreas.

  19. 0
    Aliasalpha says:

    [sarcasm] Well I’m sure that the legal fee is well deserved, the lawyers worked very hard and had only the best interests of the community at heart. [/sarcasm]

  20. 0
    zevorick says:

    yeah, it’s too early in the morning to care about grammar/spelling. You are right, however, and I should have proof read it better. Eh, i’m not too worried. If someone has to pick apart my grammar that means they can’t pick apart my point.

  21. 0
    Zevorick says:

    "Lesser and his legal colleagues are seeking $1.3 in fees."

    Sounds fairly reasonable to me. In fact, a dollar and thirty cents seems downright charitable 😉

    That aside, I am in agreeance with the last quote. Sex isn’t harmful to children as much as the villianization of sex. This, in turn, makes their desires upon puberty seem taboo, and sends them into a great moral battle where they must either reject all they’ve heard about sex from their parents and attempt to sort it out themselves (which can lead to devestattingly bad endings), or supress their inner desires with overenthused morality (See religious zealots of any flavor). If the child is exposed to the ideas that sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and proper practicises involving safe sex, they come out with a better view of themselves during puberty/adolescence, tend to delay their first sexual experiance, are at a significantly reduced risk of contributing to teen pregnancy and receiving/transmitting an STD.

    Unadulterated Violence, on the other hand, WITHOUT parental guidance, has consequences that are (in 9/10 cases) not nearly as bad as bringing a child into the world that will be uncared for. Pick and choose your battles guys… pick and choose.

  22. 0
    Freyar says:

    Am I disappointed? Sure. We can’t guess as to why now, several years later, people care or don’t care. The merits of the case were clear… The game was sold as something that it wasn’t.

    Point is most people didn’t care, Lesser. A majority of people that had this version of the game either A)Still don’t know about the problem because it isn’t accessable without third party tampering, or

     B) Find that the modification is either stupid, or fitting enough within GTA.

    The fact that Lesser, and his co-workers are demanding so much in legal fees makes it as plain as day. They are trying to fleece as much as they can out of it. Rockstar’s a big company, so of course they’ve got to pay the attourneys more than what they could have possibly spent in terms of supplies and legal work hours.  Just another get-rich-quick scheme here that lawyers jumped on the bandwagon for.


    Am I angry about this? You bet I am. Lesser’s statement at the end of that quote "The game was sold as something it wasn’t" is absolute crap. The game was sold as it was, it required someone else to tamper with it before the content that made GTA go against what it was "advertised" as (in which case there was no advertising that I can remember where Rockstar had said ‘have badly animated sex with your girlfriends!)

    —- There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians. http://www.goteamretard.com

  23. 0
    Blame the Game says:

    Let me fix the last part of that last quote.

    "There are significant short-term and long-term effects of violence."

    There, now I’m in agreeance.  If a person is subjected to viewing, participating in, or is a victim of violence in real life, then yes, it has a great effect on them.  In the case of video games?  Well, that comes down to what else exists.  I’ve played violent video games.  Alot.  In fact, I’ve said it before and still will say it…I played GTA3 when I was 15.  I even remember playing the PC Gamer demo version of the original GTA when I was very young.  However, my family understood to teach me the difference between fantasy and reality, and thus it never affected me.  So, real violence?  I’m with you on that.  Fantasy violence?  Claiming that only brings the same response many have said year after year.  "Where are the parents?"

    Oh, and in T2s favor, that’s jacked up that those guys are charging so much.  There’s no reason to charge 30x the true amount in legal fees.

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