Video games wouldn’t seem to be all that dangerous. Other than bed sores and adult-onset diabetes, there’s not many ailments that you can get from playing games. And yet injuries happen, and when they do, we all get to enjoy judges awkwardly drafting language describing famous video games that they don’t remotely understand.

In this case, the poor litigant was “struck in the groin.”

That sort of thing never happened in Metroid….

In an opinion entered last week, a three-judge appellate panel affirmed summary judgment in favor of an insurance company in a case where a kid was grievously injured playing a video game. The thing is, it’s not really a laughing matter — from the opinion, it sounds like the injury was pretty serious. Unfortunately, in an effort to draft a thorough statement of facts, President Judge Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott produced a narrative so awkward that it’s hard not to chuckle:

On the evening of September 15, 2006, Clayton Russell, Brandon Thomas Hearn, and a number of Clayton’s friends were “hanging out” in Clayton’s finished basement. Clayton was playing a game called “Dance, Dance Revolution.” According to the complaint, this video game includes a floor pad which connects to the television. While playing songs, the “dancer” is given instructions as to where to step on the pad and scores points for speed and accuracy. While playing this game, Clayton was struck in the groin from behind by Brandon Hearn.

The only thing more obnoxious than sarcastic air quotes are sarcastic air quotes committed to “paper.” This paragraph could have just noted that he was hit while playing a game with his friends. It would’ve softened the juxtaposition of what came next:

Clayton was diagnosed with torsion of the left testicle and underwent emergency surgery. Diagnostic tests revealed that Clayton may be permanently infertile as a result of having been struck in the groin.

Ugh. Ultimately, the insurer declined to pay out for Hearn’s act because it was intentional:

According to Hearn, he snuck up behind Clayton and made a “ball tap motion,” putting his hand forward as though he were going to strike Clayton in the testicles. Hearn then had second thoughts and hesitated, but his friend Greg nodded his head yes. At that point, Hearn hit Clayton in the testicles with his forearm. Hearn testified that, “in our little group, if you were doing something, like, kind of stupid, that’s what you — you would get a ball tap.” Hearn considers Dance, Dance Revolution to be a “little kid’s game.” Hearn testified that he visited Clayton in the hospital, “Because I felt really bad. I never meant to hurt him like that. I meant for him to be in pain for about five seconds. I never meant for him to go to the hospital. I felt extremely bad, and I was concerned.”

Because nothing says “I’m a real bro” more than touching another guy’s genitals.

Next time, Clayton should try Skyrim.[1]

The full opinion is available on the next page….


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