December 13, 2002

On December 10, 2002, Jenner & Block obtained a final victory for its video game clients in a suit stemming from the Columbine school shootings. The Tenth Circuit dismissed the case with prejudice after the plaintiffs voluntarily abandoned their appeal. This leaves standing the March 2002 ruling of the federal district court which rejected, on both state law and First Amendment grounds, plaintiffs' claims that movie and video game creators, and Internet Web site operators, could be held liable for the shootings.

As Jenner & Block argued, the district court reasoned that plaintiffs essentially sought to obligate all speakers to "anticipate and prevent the idiosyncratic, violent reactions of unidentified, vulnerable individuals to their creative works." Creating such a burden, the court concluded, would chill the rights of free expression, creating consequences that could be "dire for a free and open society."

Partners Paul M. Smith and Deanne E. Maynard, along with associate David C. Belt, represented most of the video game defendants in the suit, including Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. and Nintendo of America Inc. This victory follows one Mr. Smith, Ms. Maynard, and Mr. Belt obtained in the Sixth Circuit in a similar case involving a school shooting in Paducah, KY.