Digital Homicide, Jim Sterling, Lawyers, Slander, And A Lesson In Legality

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Digital Homicide is an enigma. All but one of its games carries a “mostly negative” rating on Steam, its games are critically panned mostly for being lazy, uninspired hobby projects cobbled together with pre-made Unity assets, and the developer is constantly getting into childish squabbles with internet critics like Jim Sterling. Despite the overwhelmingly negative response to his games, Digital Homicide continues to pump out more and more asset flips. As of this writing, DH has 18 games on Greenlight.

If you don’t follow Jim Sterling on Youtube, you may not be aware of the ongoing feud between the Youtube personality and Digital Homicide over the former’s very negative coverage of the latter’s video games. The back and forth banter culminated in a rather lengthy interview last July in which Digital Homicide threatened to sue Sterling. Nearly a year later and it looks like Digital Homicide is making good on their word, and has filed a lawsuit in Arizona district court.

Now neither side are discussing the details of the lawsuit, and for good reason. Talking about a court case in the middle of litigation can backfire and potentially lose the case. Basically lawyers are afraid that the person will say something stupid or incriminating and wind up blowing their arguments. James of Digital Homicide wants to make the details of the case very clear once it is over.

I have an excellent lawyer very interested in this case but they only take retainer. Very few lawyers take contingency now for defamation lawsuits.  For this reason I will also be documenting the process of this lawsuit(not the contents or personal information) and making it publicly viewable after the case is over so that others in similar dire situations can figure out how to defend themselves from online harassers and defamers.

Very few lawyers take contingency for defamation lawsuits because doing so would likely mean not getting paid. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the case to be over to view, as MMO Fallout has access to the Arizona public court records and will be adding this case to our In Plain English coverage.

Despite his claim of an “excellent lawyer,” James has gone ahead and filed the lawsuit early. An attempt at crowdfunding his lawsuit of Sterling was quickly shut down over claims that people were charging and then quickly using chargebacks to hit Romine with fees. Court dockets list James Oliver Romine Jr. as a “Pro Se Litigant,” meaning Romine is representing himself without a lawyer. Romine is claiming in excess of $2.636 million $10 million USD in libel property damage. Romine has invoked 28 US Code 1332 which grants district court jurisdiction in civil matters where the damages exceed $75 thousand and is between citizens.

Interestingly, the case also invokes International Shoe Co. V Washington, a lawsuit from 1945 in which the courts ruled that a shoe company with salesmen that sold shoes in the state were subject to Washington jurisdiction when the state sued to recover unpaid unemployment fees. Romine is claiming in the dockets that Sterling’s videos being available in Arizona is enough to give jurisdiction even though Sterling himself does not live within the district.

Romine is suing Sterling and claims in his blog post that he will be suing the people leaving anonymous mocking comments, whom he believes to be overseas competitors, and is simply building a case file for the time being.

If you believe being anonymous will prevent you from recieving said justice you will be surpised when the summons shows up, this goes for competitors in foreign markets using alternate accounts as you may be foreign by you will be sued in the US. This is the first case. More are expected to be filed soon.

What Romine may not understand about US defamation/slander law is that winning the lawsuit is heavily slanted against the plaintiff, especially when dealing with a public figure such as himself. The plaintiff is required to prove, beyond a doubt, that their reputations were harmed as a result of the allegedly slanderous material. In order to prove harm, Romine must provide quantifiable damages.

Romine claims he has been falsely accused of:

  • Stealing artwork
  • Stealing assets
  • Flipping projects with no work put in
  • Doxing
  • Had products misrepresented with intention to do damage
  • Of illegally using another companies name
  • Conducting illegal business activities
  • Impersonating someone
  • Being incompetent and unable to perform my job

For the record, Digital Homicide was caught stealing assets and artwork which Romine admitted to in his interview with Sterling and blamed on being a new developer, the same interview containing a thinly veiled threat of doxing, and we have covered here on MMO Fallout that Digital Homicide has used multiple company names in the past, including one of an established developer.

As is custom here at MMO Fallout, we will be offering regular updates as they become available. I may space out coverage depending on how quickly the case proceeds because access to the documents is not free and can very quickly add up and get expensive depending on how many there are and how long each document is.

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  • Holgranth

    Impressive levels of self delusion with this developer. I am sure there are Lawyers interested in taking his money. I look forward to your excellent coverage of this debacle.

    • Connor

      Romaine’s new crowd funding campaign to hire a lawyer has raised a whole $190 from 6 people, $100 from one person and I wouldn’t doubt that there is some tip jar stuffing going on since it’s pretty commonplace for smaller campaigns to get started (having your campaign sit at $0 would stifle any fund). Remember when Uwe Boll faced the crushing reality that, despite how well his name was known, he didn’t really have any fans and his campaigns for Postal 2 and Rampage 3 bombed? You’re going to see the same thing here.

      Frankly I don’t expect this to go much further. Romaine is obviously not going to crowd fund a lawyer and is already likely up the creek without a paddle should Sterling decide to recuperate whatever he’s paid in legal fees of his own.

      • Holgranth

        8 Days in we are at a whopping $200/$75,000. That is 0.26%! I am not sure where DigiHom got the idea that there was enough support for their games or enough disgust for Jim (F#&%ing) Sterling (Son) to raise that kind of money. Probably the same corner of their collective colons that made them think sockpuppeting would make their games sell better?

        I’d wager a fair amount that you are right, $100 right off the bat was probably the developers themselves trying to get the ball rolling, the remaining hundred is probably friends, family members and possibly other some of the other butthurt indie developers that have sent takedown strikes against Jim.