Gamer Sues Sony Over First Amendment

After being banned from a game for "trash talking", Erik Estavillo wants $55,000 and says he needs the game to socialize

By Laura Riparbelli
|  Friday, Jul 24, 2009  |  Updated 11:07 AM PDT
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Gamer Sues Sony Over First Amendment

AP

Erik Estavillo of San Jose wants $55,000 from Sony for taking away his only source of communication.

What happens when you take away someone’s video games? You might get sued.

A San Jose, Calif., man is suing Sony, claiming the company violated his first amendment rights when they banned him from playing the PlayStation 3 game "Resistance" for something he may have said while communicating with other players.

Erik Estavillo, who says he suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of crowds and public places, depends completely on the PlayStation game for social interaction.

But Sony occasionally bans users from the on line gaming system when they engage in inappropriate behavior. Estavillo admits that he was doing some “trash talking” while playing "Resistance," but says that virtually everyone who plays the game participates in the same language and he is unsure as to why he was singled out.
 
Estavillo was issued three warnings before having his account permanently locked. He says he can't remember exactly what he said to set off the Sony banners the final time, although he encourages those interested to visit his YouTube page where he discusses his ailments with Sony in detail.
 
“I can’t really go outside,” said Estavillo. “On the game, I met a lot of people I liked, and a lot of people that liked me. When they cut me off, I couldn’t talk to those friends anymore.”  One of those friends is gamer BarbieGirl, who Estavillo says he views as a sister.
 
Estavillo, 29, cited a number of mental disorders in his filed complaint against Sony on July 6, which claimed the ban "has caused pain and suffering to an already disabled plaintiff."
 
“[Because of my health], I need all the support I can get. This game is how I communicate with people,” he said. 

He is suing on four counts of unlawful behavior, one being the violation of his first amendment rights and another on counts of theft. Estavillo claims he has money in the videogame’s store, which is inaccessible to banned users.

Estavillo is demanding $55,000 in punitive damages as well as "pain and suffering damages."

Sony has yet to respond to the suit.

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