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Wiimote Straps Result in Class Action Suit 812

Posted by Zonk
from the sigh dept.
Kotaku reports the news that problems with breaking Wiimote straps has resulted in a class action lawsuit against Nintendo. From the press release about the suit: "Green Welling LLP filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of the owners of the Nintendo Wii against Nintendo of America, Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The class action lawsuit arose as result of the defective nature of the Nintendo Wii. In particular, the Nintendo Wii game console includes a remote and a wrist strap for the remote. Owners of the Nintendo Wii reported that when they used the Nintendo remote and wrist strap, as instructed by the material that accompanied the Wii console, the wrist strap broke and caused the remote to leave the user's hand. Nintendo's failure to include a remote that is free from defects is in breach of Nintendo's own product warranty."
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Wiimote Straps Result in Class Action Suit

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  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grym (725290) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @01:47PM (#17301712)

    No where in the instructions does it say that you should ever let go of the remote. Honestly, if you can't hold onto the thing, maybe you should practice a little more self-restraint and control.

    What's next? Does Nintendo have to include a helmet for the possibility that someone might hit themselves in the head?

    -Grym

  • Re:Wait... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:08PM (#17302116)
    Because in America, land of the free, home of the brave, you can get money out of McDonalds for spilling coffee on yourself.

    As frivilous as this one sounds, there really is more to that lawsuit than is often made out to be. Simply put, McDonald's served coffee at a known dangerous temperature, 180F, and had been warned on other occassions that's a medically dangerous temperature. They gambled this would never happen and lost.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's _Corp [wikipedia.org].

    During the case, Liebeck's attorney's discovered that McDonald's required franchises to serve coffee at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit (82-88 degrees Celsius). At that temperature, the coffee would cause a third-degree burn in two to seven seconds. Stella Liebeck's attorney argued that coffee should never be served hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), and that a number of other establishments served coffee at a substantially lower temperature than McDonald's. ...
    [McDonald's quality control manager, Christopher] Appleton also conceded that McDonald's coffee would burn the mouth and throat if consumed when served.
  • Re:Ummm...No (Score:3, Informative)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:10PM (#17302134)
    Are they really amazed that it could slip from a person's hand and go flying?

    I'd be amazed.

    More likely it didn't slip, but people let go. It's just not slippery, even when your hands are all sweaty.

    I don't see how anybody can argue that it is Nintendo's fault that somebody let go of their controller. It is completely unreasonable that we should be able to require companies to produce products that are unable to do damage to any other object if you aren't careful with them. We'd have to make everything out of foam-rubber.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nasarius (593729) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:41PM (#17302644)
    Why don't you at least check the basic facts before spouting off? Her grandson was driving [wikipedia.org].
  • absolutely retarded (Score:2, Informative)

    by Piata (927858) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:56PM (#17302884)
    sent this to http://www.classcounsel.com/ [classcounsel.com]

    The frivolous class action lawsuit you are bringing against Nintendo is despicable. Nintendo is already voluntarily replacing straps at no charge, when the only people that are actually breaking the straps are complete and utter morons.

    I have owned a Wii, with two wiimotes since launch and have had zero problems. I don't even understand how you could break the strap unless you were using the device completely inappropriately.

    I wish there was some way to hold you, the lawyers, accountable for such blindingly foolish lawsuits that are driven by greed rather than valid and ethical complaints that result in injury, damage or loss of property.
  • by rblancarte (213492) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:01PM (#17302984) Homepage
    The suit states that they break when used "as instructed by the material that accompanied the Wii console." That's not being stupid, that's following instructions.
    No, it is not. These people of stories of death and destruction are doing things WELL beyond what they should with the controls.

    RonB
  • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nasarius (593729) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:02PM (#17302996)
    Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for US$20,000 to cover her medical costs, which were $11,000, but the company offered only $800. When McDonald's refused to raise its offer, Liebeck obtained Texas attorney Reed Morgan. Morgan filed suit in a New Mexico District Court accusing McDonald's of "gross negligence" for selling coffee that was "unreasonably dangerous" and "defectively manufactured." McDonald's refused Morgan's offer to settle for $90,000.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's _Restaurants [wikipedia.org]

    Oops. If McDonald's hadn't been so incredibly stupid, they could have paid $20,000 instead of somewhere around $600,000.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:08PM (#17303106)

    She was injured because McDonalds kept their coffee at an unsafe temperature

    McDonald's appealed and she lost. Someone got her on a talk show and got her to blab about the case. The host also had a slew of coffee makers and places tested for coffee temp. Turns out Mc Donald's didn't serve their coffee any hotter than anyone else, including her own home personal coffee maker. That along with the fact that the lawyer was taking something like 80% of the claim, which at the time was considered outrageous, ended up getting the whole thing reduced to her medical expenses plus a much smaller reward for pain and suffering of which the lawyer got his 80%, in other words very little.

    There was one thing that did change about the whole thing, the togo coffee cups were improved quite a bit. The lids pre-lawsuit were pretty crappy, the ones now you can drop and expect the lid to stay on most of the time.

    It still boils down to one thing you shouldn't put near boiling liquids down by your privates. (She had it held between her legs.)

  • by The Only Druid (587299) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:25PM (#17303372)
    This is not legal advice: in the Federal Rules of Evidence, it is clearly stated that any attempt by a company to improve a product cannot and must not be admitted as evidence of a defect in the original design. Otherwise, products would never be improved (for fear of a resulting defect lawsuit).
  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:33PM (#17303506) Homepage
    The fact that they started using a newer version of the strap does not imply the old one was defective. Perhaps the old strap was perfectly suitable for normal use, as instructed in the manual (I don't know, I don't own a Wii). If Nintendo found that a larger subset of their users than first expected like swinging their wiimote much more vigorously than instructed, then updating the strap to be a little stronger to accommodate those users is a smart business decision (fewer complaints from users about weak straps is good for the product's image among that demographic).

    No, they very specifically state that this is NOT a recall. They're replacing all NEW straps with the new one, but if you are really concerned about it, you can call and get a replacement, new one.

    Simply put, the wrist strap is there in case you are silly enough to let go of the Wiimote during play, which you are NOT supposed to do.

    My gut is telling me these charming lawsuits are coming from a group of people (Homo Sapiens Moronicus) who think they're actually supposed to throw the Wiimote as a baseball or bowling ball, and the strap is supposed to keep it from getting away from you.

    This is NOT how you're supposed to actually use the darned thing, but hey, I guess this is the downside to bringing gaming to a wider audience. (That, and Nintendo daring to have a hugely successful holiday product).
  • Knock it off. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:39PM (#17303588) Homepage
    McDonald's sold coffee at a temperature significantly higher than other restaurants, and had received seven hundred complaints of coffee burns over the preceding ten years. [wikipedia.org] Despite the case's standing in popular culture, it really didn't go down like that. Though the woman was found partly responsible, the coffee was indeed defective as argued.
  • by Phisbut (761268) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:48PM (#17303728)
    i've watched video of them busting on youtube. and i don't think the video was doctored in any way. the video was of a guy playing and you can see that the strap snapped.

    You mean videos like this one [youtube.com], or maybe this one [youtube.com]? All of the Wii straps I've seen break were from people trying to send the thing flying into orbit. That is simple abuse of the hardware.

    From the article:

    Owners of the Nintendo Wii reported that when they used the Nintendo remote and wrist strap, as instructed by the material that accompanied the Wii console, the wrist strap broke and caused the remote to leave the user's hand.

    No where in the documentation does it say to let go of the remote. In the Wii Sports instruction booklet, on the Wii Tennis page, it says "Use gentle motion while playing". Throwing the thing hard enough to break a TV is not "gentle motion". These people are not using the Nintendo remote and wrist strap as instructed by the material that accompanied the Wii console. It's not the strap breaking that caused the remote to leave the user's hand, it's the user letting go of the remote that caused the strap to break.

    I really hope that these people go to court and use the argument "that's what the documentation says", because it's exactly what the documentation says NOT TO DO. If you can't read the manual, and if you can't control yourself, it's not Nintendo's fault.

  • by CantStopDancing (1036410) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:12PM (#17304066)
    But that's not what happened.
  • by Viper Daimao (911947) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:47PM (#17304564) Journal
    I'll cop out to this. This is how I broke my wrist strap. Playing baseball I was getting annoyed at how hard it was to get the ball to go above 70something mph. So I devised a clever(read:foreshadowing for dumb) technique of actually throwing the remote, and letting the wrist strap cause it to loop around my wrist afterwards. I'm proud to say I was then throwing in the mid to low 90s, but after about 3 or 4 times the wrist strap broke.

    That's all that broke though, and I accept full blame for anything else that might have broken. People have to realize that it's not the company's fault that your kids started acting like kids and broke their new toy. Breaking stuff is what kids do.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by julesh (229690) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:48PM (#17304586)
    The ideal brewing temperature of coffee is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit,

    True. But there is little or no reason to actually serve it at that temperature. Drinking it at such a high temperature would be dangerous, and allowing it to cool (to say 160) would mean the drink could be drunk as soon as it is served.

    while it takes less than 2 seconds of direct skin exposier to get a severe burn (THIRD DEGREE) when fluid is as little as 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Do you have a source for that? Medical evidence presented at the trial in question suggests more like 20 seconds, as opposed to 5 at 180.

  • by indil (911425) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:51PM (#17304654)
    Go here [nintendo.com] for the US or here [nintendo.co.uk] for the UK to get up to 4 free strap replacements.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:06PM (#17304882) Homepage
    Snopes ([url:http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp]) disagrees. As do a few other sites: [url:http://www.osmond-riba.org/lis/essay_mcdonald s.htm], [url:http://www.therationalradical.com/2005/01/mcd onalds-hot-coffee-lawsuit-facts.html], [url:http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=11070 89].

    Some useful facts:
    = the coffee was found to be 30-50 degrees hotter than normal, at a temperature which causes 3rd degree burns in seconds.
    = there were hundreds of similar complaints that never saw court cases
    = Stella wasn't driving, and the car wasn't moving (many of the complaints regarding this case are about how stupid it is to get coffee and try to manipulate it in those conditions)
    = The QA manager testified that they knew the dangers of serving too-hot coffee, but they did it anyway.

    Just some things to consider before jerking that knee.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:07PM (#17304906) Homepage
    No, I think this is just a simple case of many people NOT HAVING ANY CLUE what a 3rd degree burn is.

    They know about as much about first aid as they do law and civics.
  • They're not telling the truth if they're saying it's Nintendo's fault they let go of their remote.
  • by D H NG (779318) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @07:19PM (#17306870)
    See this story [timespressrecorder.com].
  • Re:Knock it off. (Score:2, Informative)

    by jesboat (64736) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @08:20PM (#17307520) Homepage Journal
    Indeed, the fault is not entirely McDonald's. Liebeck was found 20% at fault (Wikipedia), and damages were reduced accordingly. Coffee served at that temperature would cause third degree burns in 2-7 seconds (ibid), and, according to the testimony of a McDonalds, was not fit for human consumption (because it would burn the mouth and throat.)

    So, basically, it would have scalded her in far less than 90 seconds.
  • by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @08:24PM (#17307574) Homepage
    I think this is the third time I've posted the trick to fastballs. Don't go through the standard pitching motion, instead hold your straight hand out, palm down, and flick your wrist down. You should get a 90+ mph pitch every time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:26PM (#17308786)
    McDonald's Scalding Coffee Case

    Nearly ten years later, critics of civil justice and juries continue to mock Stella Liebeck and the McDonald's coffee case, calling it 'frivolous' and 'laughable'. However, it was McDonald's own testimony and actions that led a jury to rule against it. And Stella's injuries-which included 3rd degree burns across her groin, inner thighs, and buttocks-were no laughing matter.

    Facts About the Case

    • Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passengerseat of her grandson's car when she was severely burnedby McDonald's coffee in February 1992. Liebeck ordered coffeethat was served in a Styrofoam cup at the drive-through windowof a local McDonald's.

    • Critics of civil justice often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true. After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As Liebeck removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap.

    • The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and heldit next to her skin.

    Stella Liebeck's Injury and Hospitalization

    • A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body.

    • Liebeck suffered burns on her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas.

    • She was hospitalized for eight days,during which time she underwent skin grafting and debridement treatments (the surgical removal of tissue).

    Stella Liebeck's Initial Claim

    • Liebeck sought to settle her claim for $20,000, but McDonald's refused.

    McDonald's Attitude

    • During discovery, McDonald's produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebeck's. This history documented McDonald's knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.
    • McDonald's also said during discovery that, based on a consultant's advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste.
      • Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures than at McDonald's.
      • Coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

    Damaging Testimony

    • McDonald's own quality assurance manager testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above and that McDonald's coffee was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat.

    • The quality assurance manager further testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that while burns would occur, McDonald's had no intention of reducing the "holding temperature" of its coffee.

    • Plaintiff's expert, a scholar in thermodynamics as applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids at 180 degrees will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds.

    • Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck's spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

    • McDonald's asserted that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there. However, the company's own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving.

    • McDona

  • by Dantu (840928) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:32PM (#17308822)
    I believe that Nintendo Canada actually commented and said that they have had no such complaints here either. Perhaps Canadian/European idiots are just more willing to own up / pay for breaking stuff?

    That said, a friend of mine did break his wimote (not the strap) the first day he used it, but Nintendo replaced it right away. What more do you really want?

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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