Epic Games Move for Default Judgment in Lawsuit against a 14 Year Old and His Mother

Towards the end of last year, Fortnite developer Epic Games filed a lawsuit against a few Fortnite game cheaters with one of them being 14 years old. Thousands of games cheaters would lurk around the multiplayer mode of Fortnite and when Epic Games had enough of it, it decided to take legal actions. In order to set an example and discourage other players from cheating, Epic Games took many cheaters to the court. One of those cheaters, a 14 year old male teenager was issued a permanent injunction and $5000 in damages if the injunction was breached.

The defendant was firmly prohibited from adding any unauthorized computer code into the game. The boy was banned at least nine times from Epic Games but each time he got around the account lock by just re-registering with the developer. It is suspected that the minor wrote his own code in order to cheat and it encouraged other players to get an unfair advantage in the game.

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Soon after the lawsuit against the minor was filed, his mother wrote a scathing letter which said that Epic Games had to capability to prove the cheating claim. The boy’s mother also set a motion to have the case against the boy dismissed. Moreover, she added that according to Fortnite’s terms and conditions parental consent is required by minors but she didn’t give him any consent. Even though this letter was epic, there were no further responses from the mother or the boy.

Owing to this silence and lack of response, on 13th February Epic sought for a default judgment. However, the ruling of the court said that the mother’s letter out to be construed as a motion for case dismissal. This court ruling compelled Epic Games to issue a response. Last week the studio stated that since the Defendant did not carry his burden of proving the Epic Games complaint, it does not succeed in alleging sufficient facts in order to assert a relief claim which is probable on its face, the motion to dismiss should not be accepted.

Epic also argued that three out of four arguments made in the mother’s letter which were: Firstly, It cannot be proved that the defendant altered the Fortnite game code. Secondly, Epic Games released the name of the minor illegally. Thirdly, Epic Games cannot exhibit a financial loss. Epic said that the arguments made by the defendant’s mother in the letter are inaccurate, unfounded, and irrelevant. The point that the terms and conditions of the games are not applicable to minors is also meritless.

Epic cited a case in 2008 where in some high school children filed a lawsuit against a software company for the violation of Copyright act. They claimed that a software company’s plagiarism detector software which was used by the school for the submission of written works stored archives of the students’ work which came under copyright infringement. The software company claimed that when the student users agreed to the terms and conditions, a contract was made. However, the students said that infancy defense made the contract void.

The court refused to apply this defense in the summary judgment. It was help that the contact between minors and Software Company is valid because the minors clicked on “I agree.”  Since the 14 year old defendant held on to the benefits of the contract of Fortnite, which means that he continued playing the game, the infancy defense is not applicable. Therefore, the motion for dismissal of the lawsuit should be denied.

If the court accepts then it is assumed that the scope for a subsequent request for a default judgment will be open. Epic Games hasn’t yet specified if it is aiming for financial damages along with the lawsuit.

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