Lawsuit claims playing Elder Scrolls IV caused seizure in US Navy pilot

A lawsuit filed earlier this month claims that a former US Navy pilot lost his fight status after playing the Playstation 3 version of the fantasy RPG The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Courthouse News reports that the lawsuit was filed on May 4 in San Diego by John Ryan McLaughlin, who flew F-18 fighter jets while in the US Navy. The lawsuit names the game's developer and publisher Bethesda Softworks and Playstation 3 console maker Sony as its defendants.

The lawsuit claims that McLaughlin was playing Elder Scrolls IV on March 28, 2010 when he was hit with "a grand mal seizure for the first time in his life." The lawsuit claims that McLaughlin felt massive pain as a result of the seizure and also broke a bone. He claims he continues to suffer pain and mental anguish as a result of the seizure. McLaughlin has blamed the game for his issues, saying, "The product was so designed that it exceeded the upper acceptable limit of more than 3 flashes over a 1 second period, as well as acceptable spatial pattern and luminance flash limits."

McLaughlin is seeking "punitive and damages for negligence, breach of warranty, and product liability" from the defendants. So far neither Bethesda Softworks nor Sony has responded to the lawsuit. The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion was first released for the PS3 in March 2007. The next game in the series, The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, is one of the most anticipated games of 2011. It's currently scheduled for release on November 11 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC platforms.

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Its upsetting someone this moronic is flying a plane. It clearly states inside every game manual, "May cause siezures". I think that if they settle it will open the door for every other moron on the planet to sue game companies frivolously. This is why the justice system is so broken. I'm not laughing because its stupid.

I didn't know they let wussies like this fly planes now a days. I hope his commanding officers are aware that their "best of the best" is just douche.

McLaughlin, the pilot, may well be in the denial phase after finding out he has some sort of disability -- VERY common -- & lashing out, trying to prove there was some cause behind it other than his body. Or he may just be after a quick buck -- who knows...

At any rate, there are many things that can cause a seizure, several types of seizures etc... AFAIK [& I'm no lawyer] to legitimately prove his case McLaughlin has to 1st prove what physically caused the seizure, e.g. epilepsy, syncope etc., prove what triggered it, then prove the defendants were negligent in not warning people with his condition from playing, & even then it isn't much different than law suits that coffee was hot, fast food made someone fat & so on.

That said, while they may settle the suit to avoid possibly bad PR, **IF** playing Elder Scrolls actually did *trigger* the seizure, the actual cause would be physical & already present in the pilot -- that means that triggering the seizure while he was playing the game could very well have saved his life! An enemy combat pilot would not have any "upper acceptable limit"s of any sort, & a seizure then would have endangered not just him but his fellow pilots & potentially anyone on the ground -- indeed, if the Navy let people fly that were prone to seizures he would not have been grounded. IN a nutshell allegedly no one knew McLaughlin was one of those people till now.

I find alot of post's on this news report very concerning, As a photosensitive epileptic myself some of your views on a seizure is shocking and you should be ashamed of yourselves, A seizure is a very horrible experience and for some of you to say you would like one or its acceptable to make fun of it, you guys really need to look at your own lives, As for the court case he holds no water as what a previous poster already put there is warnings on most games including the said game in the law suit

Prototype1864 said,
I find alot of post's on this news report very concerning, As a photosensitive epileptic myself some of your views on a seizure is shocking and you should be ashamed of yourselves, A seizure is a very horrible experience and for some of you to say you would like one or its acceptable to make fun of it, you guys really need to look at your own lives, As for the court case he holds no water as what a previous poster already put there is warnings on most games including the said game in the law suit

Yes, a seizure is horrible. However, issuing a lawsuit is not the answer, especially when there are seizure warnings provides, so he deserves all the ridicule he gets.

It definately saved his life imagine a low level bombing run at night, that's going cause some flashes. This whole games cause my problems, games cause me to go have sex with a prostitute then beat her up to get me money back (gta) or games caused my kid to go kill someone. It's total BS

What an absolute moron. Bethesda probably saved his life.

No amount of flashing lights will cause a seizure if you're not susceptible to them because of a medical condition.

Sounds to me like he got kicked out for the condition, but is blaming the most recent thing he can think of that may have given him a seizure so he doesn't look like a moron.

Mission Failed.

hey john! if you can differentiate a joystick from a flight-stick, maybe you should just chop off your meat-stick. be a man! you pansy!

I hope people like this arent' flying planes over my house. a lightning storm can easily dish out 3 flashes of light in 1 second. oh and i base that on absolutely no research.

He already lost the lawsuit. SONY provides game seizure warnings in the TOS in the extensive documentation. It was all on him. Not knowing you're epileptic isn't covered.

Poor guy. Now he can't game nor fly. He should file a lawsuit as well to his parents for giving him the inferior genes that made him to what he is today.

suing for seizures i think is total BS. i hope the guy loses his case. because it's not a legit reason to sue.

but it's funny they trying to get all technical with it wuth the... 'exceeded 3 flashes in 1 second' etc crap. lol ... bottom line is those seizure stuff with video games is rare. most of us can play video games many many hours straight and be perfectly fine. plus if the game has a warning in the instruction booklet etc about potential seizures the guy i doubt has any chance to win

the type of seizure he had is no joke, but at the same time it's just a video game.

@ Splur ; you made a very good point. the game may have saved his life because if he was flying a jet and had a seizure he would most likely have died or even driving a car for that matter could be dangerous. so even just sticking to driving cars that could have potentially saved someones life because if he was driving and went into a seizure and hit someone else and possibly killed them.

So although he hasn't experienced a seizure until now, he's still prone to seizures. Imagine if he experienced a seizure while flying a jet? This game might've saved his life!

shinji257 said,
There is a seizure warning on the game and in the game. This lawsuit has no merit.

agreed ever game was a seizure warring that flashing lights may cause a seizure

Yeah this isn't gonna go anywhere. I have a friend who has played this for 10+ hours a day for weeks on end. The game had nothing to do with his seizure.

It's Going to get thrown out of court anyways. Just more pointless lawsuits. Warnings in the Manuals for the games and in the PS3. Just someone looking to get a quick buck.

Neztea

Would've been much better if he hadn't played this game and instead had a seizure in combat (I'm sure America's enemy's obey the 3 flashes per 1 second rule also, right? RIGHT?? /s)...

Hell I'm thinking Oblivion should be mandatory for pilots, if they sieze out, they get canned...

yeah people who have epilepsy should NOT play games like these or any fast paced moving games period.

What a sad person, to loose their right to fly....such shame. /end sarcasim

I mean really, it is better it happened on the ground and not in the air, this is **** that they are supposed to screen for in flight school/armed forces to prevent sending someone up in a plane to go up and just come crashing down. It litterally comes down to: you need good eyes, good physical health for stresses of flying, and non-debilitating diseases/whatnot to prevent you from flying also...can't be color blind , can't be too tall , can't wear glasses. Guess what a seazure is! Its one of the things they don't want a pilot to even have the chance of occuring in flight. Of course the ****** is going to be grounded for the rest of his career.

So no, this lawsuit will probablly be such that he will only win on grounds of lack of warnings, no design defects, not punititve damages for pre-existing condition which failed to show up before he was even allowed to have wings.

Ehm... OK
Well let's just say it did, with a 90% certainty there is a warning on the first page of the manual, so good luck with that lawsuit

Leonick said,
Ehm... OK
Well let's just say it did, with a 90% certainty there is a warning on the first page of the manual, so good luck with that lawsuit

You, sir, are 100% correct.

Leonick said,
Ehm... OK
Well let's just say it did, with a 90% certainty there is a warning on the first page of the manual, so good luck with that lawsuit

Just checked my copy. Yup, its right on the back of the front cover of the manual. In pretty big print too.

tonka3287 said,
damn navy pilots, lol, semper fi

Oorah brother. I always thought it was funny how navy pilots think their the ****, and cry like little girls when they get a little scratch.

This is b.s. and very unproveable it should just get laughed out of court.

wait what i played months and months for hours and HOURS at a time never once did i seizure ... I WANT MY SEIZURE !!!!!!! ... FREAKING WIMP

I played this game high out of my mind for a good 10 hours straight into the 5am point of my day and this was something that was often and I never had it trigger a seizure.

It's a personal thing dealing with your brain's health, really. Some people's brains have potholes, as it were, that when you go over (think through) your body freaks out.

My brother was lucky and during puberty his brain rewired itself to work around the damaged areas, thus curing his severe epilepsy.

IMHO (IANAD) Elder Scrolls and other games only expose the damage, and don't *create* the problem.

zachdms said,
It's a personal thing dealing with your brain's health, really. Some people's brains have potholes, as it were, that when you go over (think through) your body freaks out.

My brother was lucky and during puberty his brain rewired itself to work around the damaged areas, thus curing his severe epilepsy.

IMHO (IANAD) Elder Scrolls and other games only expose the damage, and don't *create* the problem.


Was about to post the same thing (seriously, my brother even had seizures when younger). The game only triggered a seizure at worst, it couldn't cause the seizure, hell, there's a fairly good chance that the game saved this persons life. If he happened to be exposed to flashing lights while piloting a military jet (unimaginable I know), he could have had a seizure, crashed and died.

So yeah, well done Bethesda.

Tim Dawg said,
Aren't you supposed to be crying while saying this? Ya know.... -->

Luis Mazza said,

I just tried to fake my real feelings ya know...

You two just made my day... LMAO

How long has Oblivion been out? My son played that game for 2 months straight for hours at a time. Other than being a teenager, he is fine.

RangerLG said,
How long has Oblivion been out? My son played that game for 2 months straight for hours at a time. Other than being a teenager, he is fine.

I played it like that and I'm an adult and had no problems either.

daPhoenix said,
.. What, just what?

It frightens me to think that a moron such as John Ryan McLaughlin was flying a $54,000,000 machine. Hopefully he'll smarten up and realize how retarded this lawsuit is.

Elessar said,

It frightens me to think that a moron such as John Ryan McLaughlin was flying a $54,000,000 machine. Hopefully he'll smarten up and realize how retarded this lawsuit is.

That frightens me for a different reason. If I understand it correctly, the game doesn't cause you to have the condition to be susceptible to seizures, but rather triggers those seizures. If he was susceptible to seizures, he is probably not fit to fly aircraft. Therefore, it isn't the game that got him kicked out, but rather a pre-existing condition. My concern is that he was able to get through training with that condition and they didn't catch it. Then again, they didn't have me look at blinking lights during my flight physical.

Senlis said,
That frightens me for a different reason. If I understand it correctly, the game doesn't cause you to have the condition to be susceptible to seizures, but rather triggers those seizures. If he was susceptible to seizures, he is probably not fit to fly aircraft. Therefore, it isn't the game that got him kicked out, but rather a pre-existing condition. My concern is that he was able to get through training with that condition and they didn't catch it. Then again, they didn't have me look at blinking lights during my flight physical.

Agreed, why didn't the Navy do a basic seizure test? I get the feeling this pilot isn't the only one with an unknown pre-existing condition like this. A grand mal does not occur unless something was lying dormant waiting for a trigger.

Even though targeting Bethesda is a bit unfair, isn't there any pre-emptive screening on games/shows/movies to prevent a photosensitive seizure in people?
Also hope his tongue is ok, people with grand mals tend to bite it off due to lack of control.

Edit: looked at posts below mine. Sony and Bethesda have seizure warnings before and in the game and in their ToS. This lawsuit is pretty much void since they provided plenty of warning.