UPDATE: The headline of this article has been changed to reflect that, as stated below, Milwaukee County’s insurance, and not the wallets of Milwaukee County taxpayers, will be hit with the $83,000 bill. We apologize for the confusion.
And lo, on the 30th day of November, in the year of our Jigglypuff 2017—18 months after people swarmed to Milwaukee’s Lake Park playing Pokemon Go; 10 months after Milwaukee County passed an ordinance requiring Pokemon Go-like games to obtain a permit to (virtually) operate in its parks; and eight months after a Pokemon Go-like game decided to sue Milwaukee County because of that ordinance—Milwaukee County has decided to settle the aforementioned lawsuit to the tune of $83,000.
Yep. $83,000. $83,000 in attorney’s fees. $83,000.
The lawsuit, filed in April by California-based developer Candy Lab Inc.—developers of a virtual poker game called Texas Rope ‘Em—was ridiculed by U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, who called it out for its “strangeness and lack of sophistication.” He quickly issued an injunction barring Milwaukee County from enforcing its Poke-inspired ordinance.
County Supervisor Eddie Cullen, who opposed the ordinance when it passed and is a Pokemon Go enthusiast, playfully ribbed supporters of the ordinance before voting to approve the settlement.
“I would argue that this actually is kind of a ‘Ha-ha, I-told-you-so’ moment,” he said.
Cullen said the county would be better off paying $83,000 to clean its parks than paying for lawsuits.
[County Attorney Margaret] Daun’s office notes the settlement is covered by the county’s insurance.
The Poke-controversy was touched off in the summer of 2016 when it was revealed that Milwaukee County Parks had written a letter to the developer of Pokemon Go, Niantic, Inc., asking for the removal of PokeStops from Lake Park. The park had become a hugely popular destination for Pokemon Go players, much to the chagrin—and sometimes outright hostility—of neighbors. Trash, parking issues, lack of bathrooms, trampled landscapes, and neighbors threatened with violence were just a few of the problems that arose. In October 2016, a handful of Lake Park PokeStops were indeed removed. The contentious ordinance, aimed at both Pokemon Go and future Pokemon Go-like games, was passed the following February. The lawsuit arrived in April.
A gloriously idiotic/absurd neighborhood meeting was also involved.
“I understand the federal judge’s injunction on this law right now, and I’m looking forward to a trial date on this issue,” Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman told Milwaukee Record this past July. “From what I’m being told by the lawyers, this really is a groundbreaking case. We are the only municipality in the nation that has enacted a law involving virtual reality.
“I’ve also been told by the lawyers that this case is getting so hot,” Wasserman continued, “and that it brings up so many constitutional questions, that this has the potential to go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Or not. $83,000.