LOS ANGELES – Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., publisher of the best-selling but controversial "Grand Theft Auto" video games, is the target of several law suits filed on behalf of Take-Two shareholders.
Law firms Milberg Weiss and Stull, Stull & Brody announced the suits seeking class-action status this week. The actions come on the heels of similar suits filed in recent weeks.
Each of the firms is looking for people who owned Take-Two shares between Oct. 25, 2004, the launch of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," and Jan. 27, 2006, the day that Los Angeles' city attorney sued Take-Two for selling pornographic video games to children.
A Take-Two spokesman declined to comment.
In July, the video games ratings board slapped a restrictive "Adults Only 18+" rating on "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" after it was found the company did not disclose an explicit sex scene known as "Hot Coffee." The scene was included in the game, but could only be unlocked with a computer download.
The rating change from "Mature 17+" forced Take-Two to pull the game from store shelves, crimping sales, disrupting company operations and sending Take-Two shares lower.
The re-rating led to a investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The company also recently disclosed it found material weaknesses in its accounting.
A company director, who was Take-Two's audit committee chairwoman, resigned in January, citing the "Hot Coffee" debacle and the subsequent FTC probe, various Securities and Exchange Commission inquiries directed at Take-Two and its employees, and management's failure to keep the board informed of key issues.
Milberg Weiss, the most prominent class-action law firm in the United States, said in a press release Monday that Take-Two engaged in fraudulent and illegal conduct during the class period so that insiders could sell more than 661,000 shares for proceeds of more than $18 million.
Take-Two shares, which lost 30 percent of their value in the time frame outlined in the law suits, were trading up 15 cents to $15.23 on the Nasdaq Wednesday.