Lawsuit claims playing Nintendo injured teen-ager

August 21, 1991|By Susan Moffat | Susan Moffat,Los Angeles Times

A Michigan family is suing Nintendo of America and Toys 'R' Us, charging repeated use of a video game caused injury to nerves in a teen-ager's hands of the sort usually associated with the use of computers and machinery in the workplace.

Nintendo, which has not received notice of the suit, says that it has never before faced a case associating this type of injury with the game.

In the workplace, repetitive stress disorders are the fastest-growing category of job-related illness, according to the Department of Labor. But this suit may be the first to link a toy with the problem.

In a suit seeking $10,000 in damages filed Monday in Circuit Court in Macomb County, Mich., Karen LaBruzzy said that her daughter, Nicole, began suffering numbness and tingling in her fingers after playing the Nintendo Entertainment System with a Zapper gun attachment, starting in August 1988, when she was 15.

The teen-ager developed the injury after playing the game several hours a day for several weeks, according to Barry Seifman, the family's lawyer.

Nicole LaBruzzy sought medical attention in November and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a type of repetitive stress injury, based on measurements of electronic impulses in nerves in her hands and wrists, Mr. Seifman said.

Although the problem abated when she stopped using the game, the numbness comes back when she tries to type or carries bags while shopping, Mr. Seifman said. He argues that the game should have been designed differently or had a label warning that it could cause damage.

Both Nintendo and Toys 'R' Us said they had not yet been informed of the suit and could not comment specifically on it. But a spokeswoman said that Nintendo's philosophy was dTC "moderation in all good things. Parents play a key role in monitoring their kids' leisure time."

The problem of "Nintendinitis" was reported in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine last year, when Dr. Richard Brasington, a Wisconsin doctor, said that a 35-year-old woman entranced by her first encounter with the game suffered sore thumbs after playing for five hours without interruption.

Nintendo pain hit the basketball court in February of this year, when star rookie Lionel Simmons of the Sacramento Kings sat out two games because his wrist was so inflamed.

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