Michigan couple overwhelmed by Pokemon Go players files suit

By Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Nintendo says its mission is to “put smiles on people’s faces.”

Scott and Jayme Dodich of St. Clair Shores, northeast of Detroit, aren’t smiling. Pokemon Go, they say, is making them miserable — so they’ve decided to sue the video game giant and its wildly successful game in federal court.

After weeks of complaining about Pokemon players trampling their landscaping, peering into their windows and even cussing at them, the Dodiches have filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming Pokemon Go developers and owners have made millions of dollars while ruining the quality of life for many Americans.

They claim the so-called Pokestops and gyms — which are actually GPS coordinates for Pokemon hunters looking for virtual creatures — are being placed on or near private property without the permission of owners.

In their case, they live across the street from Wahby Park — a Pokemon hotspot that has a so-called Poke gym and at least seven stops that draw hundreds of players on any given day.

This virtual playground, the Dodiches say in their lawsuit, has turned into a real-life nightmare for their typically quiet neighborhood.

“Nobody gets sleep anymore,” the lawsuit says. “How is this acceptable? … They hang out on our lawns, trample landscaping, look in vehicles … We don’t feel safe … I don’t feel safe sitting on our porch.”

The plaintiffs are suing three defendants: Niantic, the San Francisco-based software company that developed and published Pokemon Go; Nintendo, which owns 32 percent in the Pokemon company and receives a percentage of all Pokemon Go revenues, and Pokemon Co., which is headquartered in Tokyo. None of the defendants could be immediately reached for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, seeks to stop Pokemon from designating GPS coordinates on or near private properties without an owner’s permission. It also seeks to force Pokemon to share a cut of its profits with the residents whose yards and streets — the suit claims — contributed to the game’s wild success. According to the lawsuit, as of July 23, Pokemon Go had been downloaded more than 30 million times and made more than $35 million.

According to the lawsuit, Niantic has acknowledged placing Pokestops on private property by advising users on its website: “If you can’t get to the Pokestop because it’s on private property, there will be more just around the corner, so don’t worry!”

The Dodiches’ lawsuit is not unique. Pokemon Go lawsuits and similar complaints have popped up all over the country since the game made its debut. According to the lawsuit, here are some Pokemon Go complaints that have cropped up:

• In Washington, D.C., at least three Pokestops were placed within the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, prompting the museum to issue a statement: “Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism. We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

• A cemetery owner in Mobile, Alabama, expressed similar concerns about Pokemon players on the property, stating: “This is private. I owe it to the families we serve to provide a sense of decorum here.”

• In Massachusetts, one resident tweeted about a Pokemon Go gym showing up in his house, which was once an old church.

“Indeed, defendants have shown a flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of populating the real world with virtual Pokemon without seeking the permission of property owners,” the lawsuit states.

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