California court dismisses Joy-Con drift lawsuit
In the context: A California District Court has dismissed a longstanding class action lawsuit against Nintendo over Joy-Con drifting on the Switch. The case was based on whether Nintendo’s End User License Agreement (EULA), which prohibits legal action, applies to the parents who bought the console. According to the judge, yes.
Despite being the third best-selling console of all time with sales of 125.55 million in less than six years, the Nintendo Switch has been plagued by complaints that its Joy-Con controllers automatically drift in one direction after prolonged use.
Joy-Con drift has led to class action lawsuits in 2019 and 2020. In the latter case, Sanchez et al. vs. Nintendo of America was brought by two mothers who bought Nintendo Switch consoles for their children. It revolved around an end user license agreement that Switch owners must sign. The agreement includes a waiver of any class action lawsuits, but the mothers argued that their children were owners of the Switch and that they were under 18 meant they were minors who could not be bound by the license agreement.
Nintendo has stated that it was not the children who bought the Switch console and therefore not the owners.
Eurogamer reports that the judge agreed with Nintendo’s argument in November, saying the parents should have abide by the EULA and go to legal arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit.
“The Commission certainly found that the parents were the sole owners of the console,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in his decision. “Plaintiffs’ arguments about the donation and refusal of confirmation were “carefully read and considered,” and the arbitration panel ultimately concluded that the minors were not parties to the license agreement, but the parents. Since there was never any agreement between Nintendo and the minors, the arbitration panel should not have ruled on the other issues presented.”
“Because the minors were unable to claim ownership of the console and assignment of the right to sue, they do not have the right to sue CLRA and unjust enrichment claims.”
It’s unclear exactly how many Switch consoles are suffering from Joy-Con drift. A report by UK consumer watchdog Which? last year it was over 40%, or two out of every five, and it was determined that this was likely caused by a mechanical failure caused by design flaws.
Back in 2020, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa apologized for the “inconvenience” caused by the Joy-Con drift issue, saying at the time that he was unable to comment on further action due to ongoing lawsuits. Nintendo also launched a free repair program for Joy-Cons affected by the drift issue.
While Joy-Con drift issues may be the most famous case, class action lawsuits have also been filed against Microsoft and Sony over claims that their respective controllers suffer from the same problem.