Homeowner Files Class-Action Lawsuit Telling 'Pokémon GO' To Get Off His Lawn
The companies behind Pokémon GO are catching it from all sides. Players are outraged by the removal of the footprint tracking system and the shutdown of third party mapping services that help them find Pokémon. When the Pokémon are found, the homeowners whose land they’re on are unhappy about unwanted intrusions onto their property.
A homeowner in West Orange New Jersey has filed a request for a class-action lawsuitagainst defendants Niantic, Inc, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo Co., Ltd. The crux of the homeowner’s case is that the defendants placed Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms on private property without the consent of the property owners and then proceeded to profit from players invading private property.
The homeowner became aware that his backyard contained Pokémon when strangersbegan gathering in front of his house holding up their cell phones. The lawsuit alleges that “at least five” players knocked on his door and asked if they could gain access to his backyard to catch Pokémon.
By requesting permission rather than trespassing, the players seem to have been following the game’s recommendations that they respect other people’s property. Nevertheless, the suit cites well-reported cases of players chasing Pokémon in cemeteries and the Holocaust Museum as examples of unwanted intrusions into private property and goes on to claim that even when players ask for permission, constant requests constitute a nuisance that prevents homeowners from fully enjoying their property.
On the one hand, being politely asked for permission to enter your backyard by a player or two doesn’t sound like a big deal. On the other, polite players knocking on your door throughout the day and night would get old very fast.
The suit requests class action status on the grounds that the legal costs of pursuing a case against the defendants would be prohibitively high for most people. Also, an individual property owner’s reward, if the court found against the defendants, would likely be small. The combination of these two factors means individual property owners would ”have no effective remedy at law” and the defendants would be able to continue to profit from placing game locations on private property without permission.
The lawsuit asks that property owners (and the lawyers who are representing the homeowner) are paid and that Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms not be placed on private property without consent. Needless to say, Pokémon GO is over if the lawsuit succeeds in its current form. The defendants have 21 days from July 29 to respond. If they “fail to respond, judgment by default will be entered against [them] for the relief demanded in the complaint.”
While it’s unlikely that this lawsuit will shut Pokémon GO down, maybe the game’s catchphrase should be amended to “gotta catch ’em all – quickly”.