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…