A gamer and serial litigant is hoping to cash in big in a contract dispute with Microsoft, claiming that - by virtue of its silence on the matter - the company owes him a whopping $500 billion.
David Stebbins, a man well-known to the courts of Arkansas for filing numerous nuisance cases against companies with deep pockets, claims that he made a unilateral change to his Xbox Live contract with Microsoft and that the company, through inaction, has agreed to pay him a bumper half-trillion in cold, hard cash.
Taking corporate tactics and using them for his own ends, Stebbins sent a notice to Microsoft via email claiming that he was, "unilaterally amending the terms of service," in his favour. More specifically, the new contract meant that Microsoft owed him big.
Stebbins gave the company a whole 10 days to respond to his amended contract, after which the company - by virtue of continuing his Xbox Live service - was deemed to have accepted the new terms. The deadline rolled by and, naturally, Microsoft continued to ignore him - so Stebbins asked the company to attend a legal arbitration within 24 hours, after which it would be on the hook for $500 billion in damages.
Microsoft, again, ignored Stebbins, and the man has now filed suit in an attempt to claim his massive payout.
It's a neat trick: using the tactics of the corporations, who often email contract change notifications and take inaction as acceptance, against them - but it's one that is doomed to failure. Microsoft's terms and conditions for Xbox Live service - which Stebbins agreed to when he signed up - specifically state that the company will not accept contract change notices via email, while its liability for damages are limited to a single month's subscription fee.
As a result, Microsoft - a company well known for having an impressive cadre of trained attack lawyers - has at least two specific get-out clauses to save them from Stebbins, even excluding general contract law which states that contracts cannot be arbitrarily modified to the detriment of one of the signatories.
Speaking to seattlepi.com, Stebbins admitted that this isn't the first such case he's filed. "Yes, I've sued numerous organisations," he claimed. "What of it? I do not see how this means my cases are frivolous."
In a move unlikely to win him any fans in the court system Stebbins has refused to provide any paper documentation for his claim, stating that it would put undue strain on his printer. Instead, he has provided the court with a YouTube video which, he claims, offers all the information they need. Sadly, the video has been removed in the last few hours.
In a previous filing against retail giant WalMart, Stebbins claimed that the company refused to hire him on the grounds of his Asperger's syndrome, and more than a dozen other cases have been opened by Stebbins in the last year.
Microsoft has not responded to our request for comment on the case, but it's hard to see Stebbins getting anything more than a ticking off for wasting a judge's time.