A couple from Detroit, Michigan has filed a class action lawsuit against Niantic Labs over massively popular augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO, alleging that the app has illegally placed PokéStops and PokéGyms on private property without seeking permission.
Scott Dodich and his wife, Jayme Gotts-Dodich, who live in Revere Street in St. Clair Shores, claim that the game has transformed their once quiet street into "a nightmare," as nearby Wahby Park features at least seven PokéStops.
In the lawsuit, the couple alleges that Pokémon GO players who go to the park to access the PokéStops do not pay attention to the boundaries of the private property along Revere Street. Players were said to trespass into the lawn of the couple and those of their neighbors, destroying landscaping and even peering into the windows of the property owners. Mrs. Gotts-Dodich even cited an incident when upon asking a Pokémon GO player to vacate their property, she was told to "shut up b****, or else."
In addition, despite signs in the area stating that the street is a private road with parking meant only for residents and their guests, players would also park in front of the homes of the property owners, which would block the driveways.
The lawsuit that the couple has filed in a federal court in California is seeking to prevent Niantic Labs from using GPS coordinates located on or nearby private property to spawn Pokémon and establish PokéStops and PokéGyms without the permission of the property owner. The lawsuit is also seeking to force a portion of the profits generated by the game to be shared to private property owners who have been affected but largely contributed, according to the lawsuit, to Pokémon GO's continuing success.
The plaintiffs are suing two more defendants in addition to San Francisco-based Niantic Labs, namely Tokyo-based Pokémon Co. and Nintendo, which owns 32 percent of Pokémon Co.
The lawsuit initiated by the couple from Detroit is similar to the one that was filed by a man from New Jersey, also in a federal court in California. The lawsuit is still seeking class action status, but it is on the same premise that Niantic Labs has placed PokéStops and PokéGyms on private property without the consent of the owners.
As an alternative to participating in a class action lawsuit, owners can request for PokéStops and PokéGyms to be removed from their private property by filling out an online form.
Pokémon GO players should also be reminded to keep away from private property while playing the game, as it not only puts the user at risk to receiving trespassing charges, it also paints other players in a bad light.