by Jon Fingas, Engadget
Activision Blizzard is dealing with particularly serious fallout from the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the company. The Washington Post has learned Activision Blizzard is facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Kerri Moynihan, a woman who died by suicide in April 2017 during a company retreat. The family alleges sexual harassment at the game developer played a “significant factor” in her death.
Moynihan’s death was referenced in a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) lawsuit over Activision Blizzard’s reported “frat boy” culture, albeit without mentioning her name. Male colleagues reportedly shared an explicit photo of Moynihan at the holiday party preceding her death, according to that lawsuit, and referred to a male supervisor who supposedly brought sex toys to the retreat.
The family lawsuit alleges Moynihan’s boss, Greg Restituito, lied to Anaheim police and otherwise tried to hide evidence of a sexual relationship with the victim. He made “unusual inquiries” with employees present with Moynihan the night before her demise, according to a police report cited in the suit. Restituito left Activision Blizzard in May 2017, the month after Moynihan’s death.
Activision Blizzard was reportedly uncooperative with police at the time. It refused to hand over the company laptops of either Moynihan or Restituito, and also declined access to Restituito’s phone.
The family’s lawyers shared a copy of the lawsuit with The Post, but otherwise haven’t commented on the lawsuit. Anaheim police and Restituito have so far been silent. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson said the company was “deeply saddened” by Moynihan’s death and would respond to the complaint through legal channels, but said it had “no further comment” out of respect.
Activision Blizzard has taken numerous actions in response to the misconduct scandal. It removed 37 employees between July 2021 and January 2022, and disciplined another 44. Blizzard leader Mike Ybarra has also vowed to restore trust by reforming company culture. The Moynihan lawsuit underscores the apparent toxicity at Activision Blizzard in previous years, however, and adds to the pressures on the company (and its buyer Microsoft) from the SEC and others to fix its workplace practices.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741 (US), 686868 (Canada), or 85258 (UK). Wikipedia maintains a list of crisis lines for people outside of those countries.