Court Denies Motion to Relate Epic Games In-game Purchase Suits

On Thursday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California issued an order denying the plaintiffs’ motion to relate another suit against Epic Games brought by a parent on behalf of their minor child after considering both the motion and opposition.

In the motion to relate, the plaintiffs stated that pursuant to law, “(a)n action is related to another when: (1) The actions concern substantially the same parties, property, transaction or event; and (2) It appears likely that there will be an unduly burdensome duplication of labor and expense or conflicting results of the cases are conducted before different Judges.”

The plaintiffs sought to relate their instant action K.W. v. Epic Games with C.W. v. Epic Games  (the Prior Action), arguing that “(i)n every respect that matters to the efficient management of judicial resources, this case and the Prior Action are identical.” The plaintiffs noted that their lawsuit was brought on behalf of a minor child by their parent against Epic Games alleging that Epic Games misleads minors to use real money to make in-game purchases in the videogame Fortnite. The Prior Action, which was voluntarily dismissed in January 2021, also asserted similar allegations against Epic Games and both sought to represent a national and California class, according to the motion.

The plaintiffs concluded that the two actions should be related because they: “involve the same class of plaintiffs, the same sets of facts and transactions, the same kinds of legal claims, and the same kinds of requested relief”; therefore, the plaintiffs claim that assigning the case to the Prior Action presiding judge “saves resources and avoids inconsistent results.”

In its opposition, Epic Games argued that it opposes this “for two reasons, in addition to the fact that that Plaintiffs filed this motion in the wrong matter and without satisfying the relevant procedural rules.” Specifically, Epic Games stated that it opposes the motion because the plaintiffs’ allegations in the Prior Action “will be resolved by a class action settlement that received preliminary approval…in another action – a settlement joined in and supported by the attorneys who had been lead counsel in White – and the case should be stayed in the interim.” Secondly, Epic Games proffered that “in the unlikely event this K.W. case is not extinguished by the class settlement, it shares few facts in common with White, so few (if any) efficiencies would result from judicial reassignment.” Additionally, Epic Games noted that it will be asking the court to stay the K.W. suit while the settlement process in the Zanca, et al. v. Epic Games, Inc., suit unfolds; a few days later, Epic Games filed the motion to stay. Earlier this week Epic Games moved to dismiss the K.W. suit.  

The K.W. plaintiffs are represented by One LLP and Bay Advocacy PLLC.  Epic Games is represented by Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.