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Parents sue gamemakers

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 27, 2002

TAMPA -- The parents of Dominic Zummo say he had never had a seizure before he went to a friend's house two years ago to play the video game Star Wars: Episode I Jedi Power Battles.

Dominic and his friend plugged the game into the Sony PlayStation and began to use their light sabers to ward off battle droids. Then, his parents allege, Dominic had at least one seizure.

On Wednesday, his parents, Jimmie and Rosemary Zummo, filed a lawsuit against LucasArts Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment America. According to the suit, the seizure was caused by the game's "fast paced screen changes, bright screens, flickering patterns, lighting changes and what is commonly termed the "strobe effect,"' among other things.

Dominic, now 16, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he stayed overnight and received tests including a CAT scan, the suit states. He was put on a seizure medication.

The suit claims Dominic suffers "great mental and physical pain and anguish, fright, shock and anxiety" as a result of the seizure or seizures.

The suit argues that the companies failed to adequately warn users of potential problems such as seizures and failed to adequately test the game. The suit asks for damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of earnings or future earnings capacity, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

Dominic's mother said she did not want to comment and referred questions to her attorney, who could not be reached for comment. The two companies also could not be reached for comment.

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