Game industry trade body Entertainment Software Association has announced that the U.S. District Court of Louisiana has ordered the state to pay the organization $91,000 in legal fees it incurred fighting the overturned HB 1381 anti-violent game law.
The bill, first passed in June
of last year, and drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, allowed a judge to rule on whether or not a video game meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. A person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would have faced fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year.
U.S. District Judge James Brady quickly filed a temporary block
against the law, which was stayed
days later, leading to a months-long legal process that ended in November of last year when Brady officially ruled the law unconstitutional
Brady was cited
in the injunction ruling as finding the connections and precedent for "social science evidence demonstrating that violent video games are harmful" both "tenuous and speculative" and that without the injunction "the statute will have a chilling effect on both video game developers and retailers."
Following the ruling, the ESA announced
that it would seek to “immediately file to recover its legal fees from the State as it has successfully done elsewhere.”
The Louisiana ruling is the most recent successful ESA recovery of legal fees, with US District Court Judge George Caram Steeh ordering the state of Michigan
to pay $182,349 to the ESA last December, for attorney's fees and costs derived from the legal battle over that state's own anti-violent game law, which also was deemed unconstitutional.
In a statement on the ESA's victory in recovering the fees, ESA senior VP Gail Markels said, "It's unfortunate the some officials continue to believe that unconstitutional laws are the answer, when time and time again courts have thrown out these bills and proven them to be a waste of taxpayers' dollars. It couldn't be clearer that the real answer is not regulation, but education of parents to empower them to use the video game rating system, parental controls in game consoles, and other available tools."