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Wednesday
Aug102016

Pokemon Go Away: Monsters Creating Nuisance Problems

Business LitigationReal Estate Litigation Attorney

 

by Nicholas Kanter
818-907-3289

 

This game has been all the rage since July. Engadget reports over 100 million downloads of Pokemon Go, racking up $10 million each day in revenue for game makers Niantic, The Pokemon Company and Nintendo. It’s a beast. And pretty profitable, despite the legal questions that keep popping up in, for example:

  1. Employment

  2. Pokemon Go Nuisance Law
  3. Family Law

  4. Privacy

  5. Personal Injury

Most players will attempt a bit of care when hunting monsters, and won’t usually play at work, abandon their children or cross streets blindly to net an Augmented Reality (or AR, a real-world environment that has been digitally augmented or enhanced) creature. We hope.

However, there’s a growing legal concern surrounding this game even for people who haven’t downloaded Pokemon Go yet – that of nuisance issues.

The game works using a cell phone’s camera, GPS and gyroscope technology. Game developers programmed “Pokestops” and “Pokemon gyms” into geographical locations – a player who downloaded the app will be able to detect these locations and then be lured into attempting to capture AR monsters and monster-catching weaponry by swiping at their mobile screens at these Pokestops, or take on other players at the gyms.

A homeowner in New Jersey recently filed a class action lawsuit in California against the game’s developers. In the lawsuit, Jeffrey Marder claims Pokemon Go developers

  1. Programmed many of the stops and gyms on or near private property;  

  2. These stops and gyms were created without the property owner’s permission; and that

  3. Trespassers are inhibiting the owners’ enjoyment and use of their properties, constituting nuisances.

Marder cites several other property owners facing nuisance problems because of the game, including a Massachusetts homeowner who tweeted his experiences of living at an unauthorized Pokemon gym. Three days after the games release, Boon Sheridan counted over 30 people approaching his property on foot, not to mention a marked increase in vehicular traffic – all in the name of the game.

The actual number of members of the class action is as yet unknown. But what are the chances of Marder succeeding?

Monsters in the Yard: Pokemon Go Spawning Nightmares for Homeowners, Businesses

Property owners may bring common law trespassing suits against individuals who set foot on private property without permission, or they may file public nuisance claims similar to Marder’s suit above. 

Another example of a public nuisance claim would be the City of Irwindale’s lawsuit (now dropped) against the makers of Sriracha hot sauce, Huy Fong Foods Inc. The city claimed the sauce’s odor irritated residents’ eyes, noses and throats. One Irwindale family claimed a need to move a birthday party indoors because of fumes –affecting that family’s enjoyment and use of property.

In any case, private and commercial property owners have the right to protect their holdings, and their enjoyment of such holdings.

For business owners and governments that own or manage properties, whether they be coffee shops or landmarks like the Washington D.C. Holocaust Museum, there is a duty to keep environments safe for visitors. Businesses and tourist sites may be covered by a commercial general liability policy – but that doesn’t mean property owners or managers should turn a blind eye to potentially escalating problems caused by AR games like Pokemon Go.

Homeowners can always pursue individual trespassers, but that could become costly and time-consuming when so many encroach on a property. And neighbors close to a Pokestop or gym may have their own beefs because of increased vehicular and foot traffic.

Whether a private or commercial property owner, there are some alternatives to suing the game makers or Pokemon Go players: 

  1. Submit a Pokemon Go request form. The form can be used whether you want to add a stop or gym to a property, or remove one. No word yet on how effective this method may be, but if things do come to a litigation phase, proof of a request, or repeated requests, may help your case.


  2. Post signage. No trespassing signs may deter many players, and liability may be greater for a trespasser that ignores an explicit warning.


  3. Enlist help from local governments. Increased traffic of any kind can congest roads and hinder access for emergency and utility services. Convincing city officials to help could carry more leverage.

 

Nicholas Kanter is a Real Estate and Business Litigation attorney. 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Friday
Oct312014

Proposition 48: A North Fork in the Road for Tribal Casinos

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental and Business Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

 

Continuing our series on the 2014 California election ballot, we now turn to Proposition 48, the Referendum on Indian Gaming Compacts.

Tribal Casinos Prop 48

If voters approve the referendum November 4th, Native American tribes may be able to open casinos on properties not owned by the reservations – for the first time in California history. Specifically, approval would permit the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians (North Fork Tribe) to proceed with building a casino in an economically depressed area of the San Joaquin Valley.  

Essentially, Prop 48 will: 

  • Ratify California Assembly Bill 277: Signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, AB 277 ratified a 2012 compact between California and the North Fork Tribe, as well as a 2013 compact between the state and the Wiyot Tribe.

  • Exempt Compacts from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): AB 277 would give the North Fork and Wiyot tribes an exemption from complying with CEQA, which normally requires a lead agency to obtain an environmental impact report for each project.

Prop 48 a Bad Deal for Some

The opposition to Proposition 48 includes Senator Diane Feinstein, a long list of large and small news publications, various state assembly members and representatives, some grass roots organizations and certain city officials. The essence of the opposition arguments are that: 

  1. Prop 48 breaks the tribes' promises (California Prop 1A) to build casinos only on tribal property.

  2. The North Fork Tribe wants to build a Vegas-style casino in the Central Valley closer to freeways – which could ignite a gold rush for even more casino building.

  3. The state won't benefit, as no gaming revenues will be allocated to California schools, or the general fund. Additionally, Prop 48 won't create new jobs, as the proposed new casino will simply take resources from already established casinos.

  4. A Las Vegas casino operator (Station Casinos) will actually run the proposed facility.

  5. Prop 48 will take away open spaces (the proposed plot for development is 305 acres) and create more air pollution and traffic. Additionally, it could significantly drain California's water supply.

All In for Prop 48

Needless to say, Prop 48 supporters rebut all of the above. On the "yes" side, we find Governor Brown, the Los Angeles Times, the California Democratic Party, several labor organizations, and "all" Madera politicians, government units and Chambers of Commerce. They claim Prop 48 will:

  1. Build on federally-held, historical tribal lands at no cost to California tax payers.

  2. Keep local control of a project that has strong community support.

  3. Benefit the government – revenues will be allocated at the local and state levels, but also with 70 other tribes that do not have casinos. The referendum could create approximately 4,000 jobs.

  4. Keep local control of a community-supported project.

  5. Protect lands in the Sierra foothills and near Yosemite, since the referendum will allow the North Fork Tribe (whose reservation is located in those areas) to develop an off-reservation casino.

  6. Promote self-sufficiency for the tribe.

Playing the Wild Card

Though the support team has the bigger names and organizations going to bat, it's the opposition that is flush with campaign funds: Team Yes raised just under $400K (primarily from Station Casinos), while Team No is closer to $9M (primarily from competing tribes with casinos).

 

Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental and Business Litigation Attorney. Call his direct line at 818.907.3299, or email him for more information: sholzer@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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