Illinois Court Rules Class-Action Joy-Con Drift Lawsuit Needs Arbitration Pass

A class-action Joy-Con drift lawsuit filed against Nintendo in Illinois has been dropped, due to the judge’s ruling that the case must first go through arbitration. The case was filed by Zachary Vergara, who claimed the lawsuit, which was seeking damages on national class and Illinois subclass levels, was exempt to Nintendo’s baked-in arbitration laws. The judge presiding over the case for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled in Nintendo’s favor. But that doesn’t mean the matter is totally resolved yet. [Thanks, Nintendo Life!]

Judge Gary Feinerman ruled in Nintendo’s favor in this case, but only on a technicality. The court ruling determined that the Joy-Con drift lawsuit has to go through an arbitrator, but doesn’t necessarily mean the case has to be arbitrated. The arbitrator has to determine if Nintendo’s end-user license agreement is good enough to truly count as consent, which is something legally required for an arbitration agreement. Feinerman was quoted as saying the following:

Vergara correctly observes that a party cannot be required to arbitrate a dispute that he has not agreed to submit to arbitration. That principle, however, does not mandate that the court, rather than the arbitrator, decide whether his claims must be arbitrated. By entering into an arbitration agreement that incorporates the AAA Rules, the parties delegated to the arbitrator the question whether Vergara’s claims must be arbitrated.

A similar ruling took place in March 2020 in Washington. A key difference between the two cases is that while Vergara is welcome to come back to court depending on how the arbitration determination goes, the Washington case has actually been placed on hold pending a decision.

The results of both cases could have a pretty big impact on the legal relationship between consumers and companies like Nintendo.

Lucas writes about video games a lot. Sometimes he plays them. Every now and then he enjoys one. To get on his good side, say nice things about Dragon Quest and Musou. Never mention the Devil May Cry reboot in his presence. Backed Bloodstained on Kickstarter but all his opinions on it are correct regardless.