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Supreme Court will hear Xbox 360 disc-scratching case

Justices to decide if Microsoft should face class action lawsuit.

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

A lawsuit brought nine years ago over game discs scratched by the Xbox 360 will reach the Supreme Court.

The justices decided Friday to hear an appeal from Microsoft over whether it should face a class action lawsuit in this matter. The plaintiffs allege a design defect in the Xbox 360 console led to the damage to their discs.

The case has gone through several rounds of appeals without reaching trial. Microsoft argues that the case shouldn't be given class action status because individual claims have been dismissed already.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that there were not enough complaints to merit a class action suit; that decision was overturned by a federal appeals court last year.

The plaintiffs argue that the Xbox 360's optical disc drive is so sensitive that it spins discs out of control and into other parts of the console, scratching the discs and making them unplayable.

Testimony taken in the case alleges that Microsoft was aware of the potential for the console to scratch and damage discs if the console was repositioned by users. A program manager said Microsoft considered and rejected three solutions, among them slowing the drive's speed and adding parts that would have added 50 cents to the manufacturing cost of each console.

The case alleged Microsoft received 55,000 complaints about the disc scratching by 2008. The Xbox 360 went on sale in November 2005 and to date has sold more than 84 million units.

Microsoft says disc-scratching, if it occurs, is due to consumers' misuse of the console and not a design flaw.

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