Week Adjourned: 8.5.16 – Pokemon Go, Honda, Shell

pokemon goTop Class Action Lawsuits

Pokemon Go Hotspot (of sorts)? Here we go—it’s time to play hunt the Pokemon Go class action lawsuit. This one, filed this week, was among the first to get filed, and alleges the maker of the hugely popular game, Niantic, has some rather troubling data requirements that would-be game players must agree to, before being allowed to download the game.

To be clear, the proposed unfair business practices class action lawsuit alleges that Niantic’s terms of service contract forces players to provide their personal and private information to the company in order to use the app.

Filed by a plaintiff in Florida, the lawsuit asserts that the plaintiff unwittingly granted Niantic, the Pokemon Go Developer, “perpetual” and “irrevocable” expansive rights to, amongst other things, collect his user data, when he began downloading the game.

In order to use Pokémon Go, players must agree to the Terms of Service and Niantic creates a user’s Pokémon Go account by allegedly extracting data from the gamer’s Google, Facebook, or other pre-existing third-party account certain personal information.

According to the plaintiff, he downloaded Pokémon Go onto his phone and in so doing, unwittingly provided Niantic with his private information under an irrevocable license.

The license allegedly gives Niantic the right to retain and share users’ data, including players’ location, recent web history, search terms and user messages, in perpetuity.

Consequently, “unsuspecting individuals, including [plaintiff], have downloaded and used ‘Pokémon Go’ … and [have] and will provide Niantic with information,” the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, “The terms of service provide that [plaintiff] has granted to Niantic a perpetual and irrevocable license, which will survive cancelation, discontinuation or termination of [plaintiff’s] access to or use of Niantic’s services,” the plaintiff states, adding “such cancelation, discontinuation or termination may occur upon Niantic’s option, at its sole discretion, and at any time and without notice to plaintiff.”

Further, the suit asserts that Niantic reserves the right to unilaterally alter or terminate any or all of the separate parts of the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Because of this, the suit claims Niantic “is not bound by the Pokémon GO Terms of Service or the Pokémon GO Privacy Policy, and may perform if it wants to.” The plaintiff claims Niantic unfairly asserts the right to terminate a player’s account at the company’s sole discretion and refuses to refund virtual goods which the player uses in the game.

The lawsuit is seeking relief under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and a declaratory judgment that the Niantic Pokémon Go Terms of Service and the Pokémon Go Privacy Policy are illusory and therefore the contract is unenforceable.

The Pokémon Go Terms of Service Lawsuit is Case No. 50-2016-CA-008330, in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit for Palm Beach County, Florida.


Honda Gets Hit…. with a defective automotive class action lawsuit this week, filed by owners of Acura vehicles. The lawsuit states that the automaker sold vehicles with a battery-draining defect that since at least 2005. According to the allegations, Honda knew all about the issue. No!

Here’s the skinny—according to the Honda complaint—the HandsFreeLink™ unit will get stuck in the “on” position, even if the feature is not in use and even after the car’s ignition switch is turned off. Once stuck, the HandsFreeLink™ unit creates a constant drain on the electric system, leading to drained and dead batteries, recurring battery replacement and premature failure of other essential electric components such as alternators.

As a result, Acura owners are faced with the choice of disabling the HandsFreeLink™ unit or replacing it at a cost in excess of $1,000, with no guarantee that the replacement will function properly, according to the complaint. Since 2005, Honda has issued internal Technical Service Bulletins, notifying only the dealers about the problem, but offering no meaningful solution, warranty coverage or recall for consumers.

The lawsuit also states that Acura owners are not only out the cost of potential replacement. According to the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, owners find themselves with cars that are less valuable than comparable cars with properly functioning hands-free systems. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for vehicle owners related to the defect and an injunctive order to end Honda’s concealment of the defect and denial of warranty coverage for repairs related to the HandsFreeLink™ defect.

Go get ‘em!

Top Settlements

Shell Gift Cards not so Giving? Shell got nailed for some hanky panky with its gift and fuel rewards cards this week.

Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey S. Rosell settled a consumer fraud and false advertising class action lawsuit brought by his office against Equilon Enterprises LLC, dba Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”).

The specific allegations were that Shell: (1) failed to adequately disclose that certain advertised discounts for using gift cards and fuel rewards cards could not be combined; (2) advertised discounts on gasoline when purchased by a gift card that Shell knew or should have known were not being honored by all stations; (3) failed to redeem gift cards with balances of less than $10 for cash as required by California law; (4) failed to adequately disclose limitations to Shell’s rewards programs; and (5) falsely advertised that certain gift cards could “be used like cash,” when Shell knew or should have known some stations were charging customers the credit price for gasoline when purchasing with a gift card.

The Shell gift card judgment includes an injunction that requires Shell to: implement new technology at stations to address technical limitations that prevented advertised discounts from being combined; more adequately disclose any limitations on advertised discounts; provide increased training materials to help Shell stations address the issues in the complaint; and more prominently notify consumers about their gift card redemption rights and where to call with questions or complaints about Shell gift cards or fuel rewards cards.

Under the terms of the stipulated judgment, Shell has agreed to pay $762,500 in civil penalties, costs, and restitution, and to injunctive provisions to ensure future compliance. A task force composed of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, along with District Attorneys from Alameda, Monterey, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Clara and Solano counties conducted the investigation and filed the action in Alameda County.

Ok, that’s a wrap folks… See you at the Bar!