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'Grand Theft Auto' maker loses round in lawsuit

Judge refuses Take-Two's request to dismiss some claims against it in suit centered on sexually explicit images in a game.

A federal judge refused a request from Take-Two Interactive Software to immediately dismiss some claims in a lawsuit accusing it of selling "Grand Theft Auto" video games containing sexually explicit images under the wrong content label.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, said Take-Two's alleged misconduct violated consumer protection laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since the suit was filed in July 2005, a number of cases making the same claim have been consolidated in Manhattan federal court.

Take-Two and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games, had argued in the motion to dismiss parts of the lawsuit that the plaintiffs could only file claims in the states where they resided, not in all 50 states.

But U.S. District Judge Shirley Wohl Kram denied Take-Two's motion and said she would reconsider if class-action status were granted in the case.

"If class certification is granted, the court will have the benefit of a well-defined class and a more fully developed treatment of potential choice of law questions," Kram wrote in an opinion dated Wednesday.

A representative for Take-Two was not immediately available to comment on the judge's order.

The best-selling "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was found to have hidden sex scenes in 2005. The explicit scenes, known as "Hot Coffee," allowed players to engage in virtual sex acts.

When the scenes were discovered, the video game ratings board slapped a restrictive "adult" rating on the game. Take-Two had to pull the games off store shelves and repackage them with the "adult" rating, which crimped sales and disrupted the company's operations.