Nintendo Life Joy Con© Nintendo Life

If you're one of the many people who has suffered from Joy-Con drift in the past then you might be interested to know that a legal claim by a Switch owner that Nintendo of America has sold "defective" controllers with its consoles must go to arbitration.

The decision was made on Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, presiding over the case of Zachary Vergara, who assets that the Joy-Con controllers have a fault which "causes the joystick to activate or drift on its own without the user actually manipulating the joystick," which is an issue that "significantly interferes" with gameplay.

Vergara's lawsuit includes claims for "violations of consumer protection laws, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment" and he is seeking unspecified damages, as well as his attorney and legal costs.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman stated that Vergara must ask an arbitrator whether his alleged claims belong in court, or if they're actually subject to an arbitration clause in an end-user agreement Vergara will have agreed to when he first purchased the Switch itself.

Judge Feinerman added:

Vergara correctly observes that a party cannot be required to arbitrate a dispute that he has not agreed to submit to arbitration. That principle, however, does not mandate that the court, rather than the arbitrator, decide whether his claims must be arbitrated. By entering into an arbitration agreement that incorporates the AAA Rules, the parties delegated to the arbitrator the question whether Vergara's claims must be arbitrated.

Vergara opened his case against Nintendo last August, and a month later, Nintendo moved the case to federal court. The company has stated that Vergara willingly signed an end-user license agreement that required him to arbitrate claims related to its Switch console and its associated control devices. Vergara, in turn, responded by stating that his case was an exception, which exempts claims "that may be brought in small-claims court."

Judge Feinerman's ruling on this matter means that Nintendo has 'won' this round, but he added that Vergara was free to come back to court if the designated arbitrator decides that the claims aren't subject to the arbitration process.

This ruling is similar to one made by a Washington federal judge in March, which also focused on defective Joy-Con controllers. U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly granted Nintendo's bid for arbitration in that case, but refused to dismiss the case outright and instead put a hold on Ryan Diaz's class-action suit, pending the results of the arbitration process.

The outcome of cases like these could have a dramatic impact on how Nintendo handles future problems with the Joy-Con controllers.

[source news.bloomberglaw.com, via law360.com]