Pokémon Go Faces Class-Action Lawsuit

Pokemon Go The wildly popular Pokémon Go game is facing a class-action lawsuit as homeowners become increasingly fed up with the “trainers” who are hunting Pokémon and visiting Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms that are on or near their properties.

Class-Action Suit Filed

On August 10, 2016, Scott Dodich and Jayme Gotts-Dodich of St. Clair Shores, Michigan filed a class-action lawsuit against the Pokémon Company, the Nintendo Company, and Niantic Inc., the company that developed Pokémon Go, alleging that the game is placing Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms on private property without permission. The suit accuses the users of the app of creating a nuisance and claims that the defendants are being unjustly enriched at the expense of the property owners.

Scott Dodich and Jayme Gotts-Dodich live across from Wahby Park in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. Wahby Park used to be a quiet park in an idyllic lakeside neighborhood. Since Pokémon Go’s launch in early July, the Dodiches allege that their quiet neighborhood has turned into a nightmare. Wahby Park is the site of a Pokémon Gym and seven Pokéstops. Pokémon Gyms and Pokéstops attract players by giving out in-game items and acting as areas where players can battle one another. 

The lawsuit states that, “Defendant Niantic had placed a Pokémon Gym and at least seven Pokéstops on the park, and had placed Pokémon on Plaintiffs' property as well… The intentional, unauthorized placement of Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms on or near the property of Plaintiffs and other members of the proposed class constitutes a continuing invasion of the class members' use and enjoyment of their land.”

Harassment Claimed

Gotts-Dodich claims that, despite increased police patrols in the area, she is harassed by the Pokémon players who are attracted to the Pokestops and Pokémon Gym in Wahby Park. The lawsuit claims that players “scatter when it is time to leave, hiding on our street or in the bushes, then come right back once police leave.” Gotts-Dodich also says that one player threatened her to “shut up... or else” when she asked them to get off her property.

The plaintiffs claim that Pokémon Go users hang out on their lawns, trample their landscaping, and peer into their windows. The plaintiffs allege that they have submitted multiple requests for the removal of the Pokestops and Pokémon Gyms located near them home, but have only received generic replies thanking them for submitting a report.

Relief Requested

The lawsuit requests that a share of Pokémon Go’s revenue be given to property owners whose properties are used in the game. The lawsuit claims that Pokémon Go has reached 30 million downloads and brought in over $35 million in revenue. However, Niantic recently reported that the game has been downloaded close to 100 million times and one report has placed Pokémon Go’s revenues at $200 million in its first month. The lawsuit also demands that the Pokéstops and Gyms be removed from Wahby Park. 

This suit was filed by the Los Angeles-based law firm Pomerantz LLP. This is the second Pokémon-related suit that has been filed by Pomerantz LLP. Their first suit was brought on behalf of a New Jersey plaintiff who alleged that a Pokémon in his backyard brought numerous unwanted visitors to his backyard.  

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