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Serial Litigant Stands Slim Chance Against Video Game Titans

Mar 18, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

In a society where parents fabricate the disappearance of their small child in the hopes of getting a reality television show, it should be no surprise that Erik Estavillo is seeking his fifteen minutes of fame as a serial litigant. However, given the limited and overburdened resources of our federal and state courts, lets sincerely hope other "wannabes" don't literally follow suit.

For those of you who watch the videogame industry, you may have heard of Estavillo as the eccentric (to be kind) UCLA grad who sued Sony Computer Entertainment of America last July for disabling his Play Station Network account for "trash talking" in the on-line game "Resistance: Fall of Man." (If any of you know online gamers, you can only imagine the type of "trash talk" that led to the ban). Estavillo's suit against Sony sought $55,000 in pain and suffering damages claiming, among other things, that Sony had violated his First Amendment right to free speech. Not surprisingly, a United States District Court judge dismissed Estavillo's claims ruling that the First Amendment did not apply to Sony's online commercial network.

Apparently enamored with the media attention he received last summer, Estavillo has not only appealed the District Court's dismissal of his claims against Sony, he is now on a litigation rampage against other big-wig videogame publishers. Indeed, Estavillo has just in the last two months sued Microsoft Corporation, Nintendo Of America, Inc. and Activision Blizzard on a whole variety of bizarre (or amusing as some gamers seem to think) claims premised on what he appears to believe is his inalienable right to play and enjoy videogames.

For example, on November 18, Estavillo filed a lawsuit against Microsoft in a United States District Court in the Washington, DC. In his pro-per complaint, Estavillo alleges that he woke up that day to "find his XBOX 360 had the infamous 'red ring of death,'" which in layman's terms means that it was no longer working. To support his claim for $75,000 in damages against Microsoft (which would obviously pay for hundreds of new consoles), Estavillo issued a trial subpoena to Bill Gates seeking testimony to establish the number and percentage of XBOX 360s that have experienced the "red ring of death" defect (a notorious problem with the XBOX 360 that has led Microsoft to extended warranties on the consoles).

In that same complaint against Microsoft, Estavillo also asserted an entirely unrelated claim against Nintendo for sending "an update via the Nintendo Wii console" which allegedly prevents players from using third-party software designed to enhance a player's performance. Remarkably, Estavillo claims that the Nintendo update interfered with "his pursuit of happiness" as guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. Who knew that the Declaration of Independence gave rise to a civil claim for interfering with one's happiness? You can only imagine the number of lucrative/costly claims one has forgone and/or avoided in a lifetime.

Finally, Estavillo has most recently targeted Activision Blizzard -- the maker of the wildly popular on-line game "World of Warcraft." On November 24, Estavillo filed suit in California Superior Court claiming that the publisher has engaged in "deceitful" business practices by deliberately causing the "World of Warcraft" online game to proceed too slowly so as to collect greater subscription revenue. In this lawsuit, Estavillo has subpoenaed Winona Ryder and Depeche Mode founder, Martin Lee Gore, to provide testimony on his behalf regarding the "subject of alienation." (If you are confused as to what this means, or how it could possibly be relevant to any claim Estavillo has against Nintendo, you are not alone).

Although it is hard to know whether Estavillo is truly the agoraphobic, very depressed man he claims to be in his complaints (afflictions that he says began about two years ago), he certainly, seems to be enjoying the media attention that has surrounded his litigation escapades. Indeed, a google search of Estavillo shows that he has given a number interviews and comments to the press. Moreover, Estavillo has now even launched his own website, EstaVideo, which includes videogame reviews, podcast interviews and a history of Estavillo's legal endeavors in the videogame industry (for those readers that actually may be interested in checking it out, it can be found at estavideo.bravehost.com).

Although Estavillo stands zero chance of prevailing on any of his claims (and equally little chance of subpoenaing any of his famous witnesses), the real question is will Estavillo ever stop his nuisance, attention-seeking lawsuits? According to his website, Estavillo's complaint against Activision Blizzard was the last lawsuit he will ever file. Lets hope this declaration has more value than any of Estavillo's frivolous claims. However, given how much this gamer seems to enjoy attention (and all the attention he has received), it is hard to imagine Estavillo will stop any time soon.