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Hernandez v. IGE CaptionPlaintiff Antonio Hernandez yesterday filed a motion seeking class certification in his suit against against virtual property dealer Internet Gaming Entertainment for its activities in World of Warcraft. This is a critical filing, as the judge’s decision will determine whether the case includes millions of World of Warcraft users, or just Mr. Hernandez.

Documents follow:

From the filing:

This consumer fraud action arises from a fraudulent scheme and conspiracy to reap substantial profits by knowingly interfering with, and substantially impairing and diminishing the intended use and enjoyment associated with consumer agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and subscribers to its virtual world called World of Warcraft®.

Specifically, over the past several years, Defendant IGE U.S., by and through its employees, agents and affiliates, some of whom work in deplorable conditions in third world countries, has engaged in the deliberate selling of World of Warcraft® virtual property or currency (commonly referred to as “gold”) through eBay or other industry websites. IGE U.S.’s practice is known as “gold farming,” “real money trade” or “RMT,” and it is expressly prohibited by Blizzard Entertainment’s EULA and TOU to which all World of Warcraft® Subscribers agree.

IGE will oppose this motion, the court may take oral argument, and the court will then decide whether the class gets certified.

There aren’t too many surprises in this filing, though it is notable that the memorandum focuses largely on the consumer fraud claim. This is presumably because the plaintiff believes that claim will resonate with the court to a greater degree than the underlying contract claim — particularly at this stage in the case, because class certification of consumer fraud claims is fairly common.

For the full background of this case, see VB’s complete coverage of Hernandez v. IGE. In brief, plaintiff is suing IGE on behalf of essentially all World of Warcraft players on the grounds that IGE, by farming gold, spamming chat, camping spawns, and generally diminishing the World of Warcraft experience, allegedly prevented players from receiving the full benefits Blizzard intended them to receive as third party beneficiaries of Blizzard’s Terms of Use and EULA.

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9 Responses to “Hernandez Seeks Class Certification in Case Against Virtual Property Dealer IGE”

  1. on 20 May 2008 at 3:07 pmAshcroft Burnham

    In U. S. litigation practice, what is the significance of class certification? The system works very differently here in the UK (look up “Group Litigation Orders” for information).

  2. [...] post by Virtually Blind | Virtual Law | Legal Issues in Virtual Worlds and Multiuser Online Games Need WOW Guide? Click [...]

  3. on 20 May 2008 at 8:30 pmBenjamin Duranske

    In basic terms, class certification is permission to move forward on behalf of a large group of as-yet-undetermined plaintiffs, with whatever relief the named plaintiff gets also going to everyone else. So basically, when the value of the loss is small, but widespread, it makes sense, and is — practically — the only way to fund a lawsuit like this. Attorney fees end up coming out of the settlement, or judgment.

    Here, each person allegedly hurt only suffered some reduced value to their Warcraft experience — something they were, for a time, paying less than $15 a month for. So realistically, the value of any individual loss isn’t that high. But if a jury finds that everyone in the class should get $10, that could, given the size of the class (e.g. a large portion of the number of Warcraft users) end up being many tens of millions of dollars.

  4. on 21 May 2008 at 2:12 amAshcroft Burnham

    Interesting, thank you. It is rather different here in relation to the way that things are funded, in that lawyers are not allowed to agree to take a proportion of the judgment as payment, so GLOs are rarer, but it does make sense in the context that you describe.

  5. [...] battle is still raging and, just the other day, his attorney filed for his gold selling case to become a class action lawsuit. A judge will review it, and if approved, millions of World of Warcraft players, and perhaps those [...]

  6. on 25 Jun 2008 at 8:30 pmBlast

    IGE has filed its opposition to class certification.

  7. on 25 Jun 2008 at 8:50 pmBenjamin Duranske

    Thanks @6. I’ll track down the documents and run a post shortly.

  8. on 25 Jun 2008 at 10:43 pmBenjamin Duranske

    Thanks again, @6, for the heads up. Documents are now available here:

  9. on 07 Aug 2008 at 11:41 pmMike F.

    Here is what I don’t understand. IGE U.S. (the party named in the Hernandez suit and now called Affinity Media Holdings or something like that) sold off the “IGE” business and trade name and everything more than a year ago. My understanding is that IGE U.S. doesn’t do anything anymore. So why would Hernandez not sue whoever it is that is running the IGE websites today? That is, whoever bought the IGE business?

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