A fatal sniping spree by two teenage Tennessee boys who said they were mimicking the video game “Grand Theft Auto III” has triggered a $246 million damage lawsuit against the game’s creator and others.
One person was killed and another wounded in the incident last June.
The case, filed Monday in Cocke County Circuit at Newport, Tennessee, named Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., a unit of Sony Corp. (SNE: Research, Estimates), Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO: Research, Estimates), and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT: Research, Estimates), which sold the game, the parents of the two boys involved, and the boys themselves.
The lawsuit alleges that the parties being challenged should have known the game would lead to “copycat violence.”
The boys in a court appearance in August admitted they traded off firing a rifle from a wooded hilltop overlooking a highway, killing Canadian Aaron Hamel, 45, and wounding a woman motorist. A passenger riding with Hamel was also injured when his car ran off the road.
Prosecutor Al Schmutzer said the boys told authorities they were mimicking the video game by trying to hit the sides of passing trucks.
Joshua and William Buckner, 14 and 16 years old, respectively, have been ordered held until they reach age 19 after pleading guilty to reckless homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
The suit was filed on behalf of Hamel’s parents, the wounded motorist and two people who were passengers in each of their vehicles. It seeks $200 million in punitive damages and $46 million in actual damages.
Take-Two said it would seek a dismissal of the suit.
“The Company believes that the claims against it are without merit and are similar to lawsuits brought and uniformly dismissed by courts in other jurisdictions where the plaintiffs’ sought to hold entertainment companies responsible for the violent behavior of individuals who used those company’s products,” Take-Two said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for SCEA, declined to comment, and Wal-Mart had no immediate comment.