The judge presiding over the James ‘PhantomL0rd’ Varga vs Twitch lawsuit has issued a final statement of decision, in which he highlights many holes in Phantoml0rd’s case, which led to Twitch only having to pay around $20,000 in damages rather than the $100 million initially requested.
In April, the court ruled that Twitch had to pay Phantoml0rd $20,720.34 in damages, over a dispute which arose from Twitch’s decision to permanently ban the streamer in 2016.
However, although Varga ‘won’ the lawsuit “on all counts” (in his own words), Judge Curtis E.A Karnow’s statement of decision on September 1 reveals more about the proceedings, and why Varga’s legal team failed in their pursuit of tens of millions in damages.
At the outset, “Varga’s counsel alleged to damages in the range on $15 million to 100 million.” This request was then revised to only $12 million, before later being raised again to as much as $63 million.
In the end, the $20,720.34 was largely due to the jury finding that Twitch had violated a provision in Varga’s contract that he should receive 30-days notice before being banned.
Phantoml0rd claimed he was ‘singled out’
During the case, it was argued by Varga’s team that Twitch had treated him unfairly, compared to other streamers, namely Sodapoppin.
The judge explains it was argued that “Varga was the ‘scapegoat’ and although he was banned, another popular but similarly abusive streamer named Sodapoppin was not banned.”
“This was one of Varga’s core themes at trial. Twitch noted Varga’s extraordinarily high number of violations and Varga retorted with Sodapoppin’s 34 violations.” However, Twitch argued that each streamer’s “disciplinary record” is treated separately, on a case-by-case basis.
The judge also went into detail about Phantoml0rd’s violations on the Twitch platform, which include passing out drunk, “simulating sexual intercourse”, as well as sexually suggestive and racist content.
Phantoml0rd testified he didn’t know about TOS
It is also told how Phantoml0rd claimed under oath that he “didn’t know about the TOS” (Twitch’s terms of service), or “didn’t recall”, but the judge found that he was not telling the truth.
Because, it was made abundantly clear to all in the courtroom that Varga did in fact know about the TOS, when they were “shown a YouTube video which Varga posted which shows Varga looking at Twitch’s TOS and rules of conduct in 2016.”
The judge also noted that “Varga had other serious issues with his credibility, too.”
Judge sides with Twitch on ban decision
Finally, the judge concluded that Twitch benefitted “the real consumers here who are the viewers (including teenagers) who no longer were exposed to his abusive behaviors.
“While consumers might have been disadvantaged by not being able to watch Varga’s high-quality gameplay on Twitch (a consumer injury Varga never argues), they can do so on e.g., YouTube.”
In conclusion, the judge expects Twitch will not repeat its “ham-fisted” response to Varga’s “abusive actions”, as the lawsuit itself cost the streaming platform “almost half a million dollars on its expert, and I expect attorney’s fees far exceed that. That should be enough to get Twitch’s internal legal team motivated.”
In the claim of unfair competition law (UCL), the judge states “judgement should be entered for Twitch and against Varga on the UCL claim.”