According to Los Angeles County Judge Gregory Alarcon, Billy Mitchell’s defamation case against high-score adjudicators at Twin Galaxies, the official supplier of video game records to Guinness World Records, meets the “minimal merit” standard necessary to move forward to trial.
The defamation case dates back to 2018 when Twin Galaxies decided to cancel all of Mitchell’s high scores after determining that at least two of the 52-year-old gamer’s Donkey Kong scores were not achieved on an original Donkey Kong Arcade PCB, a requirement of the organization’s rules.
In court documents, Mitchell claims Twin Galaxies falsely accused him of cheating and ignored key testimony from eyewitnesses. The gamer alleges in court documents that the case rests on a “broad conspiracy” involving dozens of unrelated people that “have agreed to lie and fabricate evidence that Mitchell achieved his records on arcade software.”
Judge Alarcon has ruled that Mitchell is a public figure in the gaming community, therefore, he will have to prove at trial the defamation claims and that the organization acted with “actual malice.” The judge has also questioned why Twin Galaxies has declined to interview witnesses that were present at the gamer’s performances, including a referee, Todd Rogers, who authenticated a score that Mitchell achieved at a Florida Mortgage Brokers’ Association convention in 2007.
Judge Alarcon also noted that “the status of the PCB hardware as original and/or unmodified appears to be at least supportable by Nintendo’s Senior Engineer by verification, and [Twin Galaxies] has not provided a reason for failure to investigate this information after [Mitchell] requested. The failure sounds rather in avoidance of information, rather than a failure to investigate… “
In addition, since Mitchell is not a California resident, the judge has ordered him to pay an $81,225 bond to cover Twin Galaxies’ expected legal costs if it wins the case. The case has scheduled a planned management conference on December 4, at which time a trial date will be set.
On Twitter, Mitchell claimed he achieved a legal victory. “I officially defeated Twin Galaxies in court in its misguided attempt to prevent me from having my day in court on my defamation claims,” he writes. “I needed to prove that I have a ‘probability’ of winning my lawsuit and hence that it should be heard in court by a jury. I did exactly that.”
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