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Another black eye for geocaching


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Suppose GS declines to publish a cache that is along an active railroad's right of way. Then, sometime later, a person trespasses on another parcel of private property while trying to find a bison tube and is arrested, and he decides to sue GS.

 

Do you really think that his lawyer is going to use the denial of one illegally placed cache to argue that, by publishing the other illegal cache, GS has endorsed it as being legal?

 

Is you do, then do you think it is wise for GS to continue vetoing illegally placed caches?

Sue somebody because you got arrested? I suppose it could happen.

We appear to be in agreement that such a lawsuit would seem rather silly. I also think that the earlier imagined lawsuit by someone with a stubbed toe would be just as silly and just as groundless.

I can recognize satire when I see it. Try changing "stubbed toe" to "broken neck" and see what you think.

Even if you change "stubbed toe" to "broken neck," I think such a lawsuit still would be silly and groundless, assuming it was based on the premise that "policing safety implies liability."

 

You, however, seem to believe that policing safety implies liability. I wonder if parks that close hiking trails due to recent bear activity are aware of your interesting legal theory. I also wonder if you believe that policing illegally placed caches also implies liability.

 

How many times must I tell you... this is not my theory. I am reporting what I have heard Groundspeak say in this forum. And no, I will not do your searching for you. As I said... go to the horses mouth instead of beating this dead one.

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Why would Groundspeak be liable for unsafe caches and not be liable for illegally placed caches (such as some placed on railroad right of ways or interstate highways)?

I tend to agree that if they wanted, Groundspeak could have a safety guideline (or more correctly, use safety as a rationale for some guideline as to what locations are off limits), and not be any more open to liability if someone is injured at a cache that wasn't in the off limits category. However, Groundspeak chooses to not make safety a rationale for guidelines. This is because many extreme caches involving climbing, rappelling, scuba diving, spelunking, space flight, etc. are far more dangerous than the locations some people want to see banned because of safety issues. Instead, Groundspeak uses a disclaimer to warn that there are certain risk inherent in geocaching and cache seekers assume all risks involved in seeking a cache. Cache owners are asked (but not required) to abide by the geocachers' creed and not endanger themselves or others placing caches. Most people will place warnings on their cache pages, either in the description or using the attributes, and will properly rate the cache. Seekers are nevertheless responsible for determining when they feel a cache is to risky for themselves.

 

Groundspeak has decided to make certain places off-limit based on other rationale. The primary one is legal. Is the cache in a location where the finder can legally go? Trespassing is probably the biggest no-no for cache placement. In this post 9-11 world, the other major rationale for making places off limits is the risk that cachers seeking a cache or the cache container itself could be seen as suspicious and result in incidents like the cache in the OP did. This is a gray area guideline in that it is hard to predict when a cache will result in the bomb squad being called. Certain locations that are most likely to be seen as terrorist targets are called out in the guidelines. Other locations are left to the cache owner and reviewer to use judgment on.

 

In this particular case, the bomb squad informed Groundspeak that the railroad was off limits. In many other instances, Groundspeak has determined that for themselves.

The bomb squad likely did not inform Groundspeak (or the local reviewer) of anything. In this case, once the local reviewer found out about the bomb squad incident, he had more information about the location (and style of hide) than he had when the cache was published. He now knew the cache was in a location where it might be seen as a suspicious and archived the cache under the existing sections of the guidelines. In some cases, Groundspeak has chosen to call out certain locations as off limit in the guidelines. These help cache owners and reviewer avoid places where problems are most likely to happen. Cache owners (and reviewers) must still use good judgment when placing caches.

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I also wonder if you believe that policing illegally placed caches also implies liability.

 

It is understood that you must have adequate permission to place a geocache. For the sake of argument, let's say I own a field with no fences and no readily apparent property lines and no "No Trespassing" signs. You place a cache on my land without asking me for permission to place this cache. I find someone on my property without permsission and shoot that person for trespassing.

 

Let's disregard my liability for shooting the cacher. I'm pretty sure the cacher would have a great case against me.

 

But, since the cacher has a reason to assume that permission was acquired before the cache was placed, couldn't the cacher sue Groundspeak as well as me? He would not have been on my property if Groundspeak had not allowed that cache to be published.

 

Groundspeak's adequate permission can lead to people being in places they should not be due to cacher's assuming that reviewers are doing an adequate job of ensuring permission exists for a given cache placement.

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Sue somebody because you got arrested? I suppose it could happen.

We appear to be in agreement that such a lawsuit would seem rather silly. I also think that the earlier imagined lawsuit by someone with a stubbed toe would be just as silly and just as groundless.

 

Actually, the second ever jury I was on was about just such a case. Lady had late (super late, like months late) movie rentals. Video store owner called the cops on the lady. Lady was arrested while at her place of work- cuffed while still in the bank she worked at. Lady that was arrested was suing the owner of the video store for calling the cops on her. Turns out, at least in the county I live in, you can't legally involve the cops in what should be a civil matter. When the store owner called the cops she told them that the lady had "stolen" the video tapes. The lawful action would have been to take HER to court over the late fees. She was using law enforcement in an unlawful manner.

 

Because of the laws in our county we had no choice but to find in favor of the lady with the late fees.

 

Laws in your neck of the woods may differ.

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I also wonder if you believe that policing illegally placed caches also implies liability.

 

It is understood that you must have adequate permission to place a geocache. For the sake of argument, let's say I own a field with no fences and no readily apparent property lines and no "No Trespassing" signs. You place a cache on my land without asking me for permission to place this cache. I find someone on my property without permsission and shoot that person for trespassing.

 

Let's disregard my liability for shooting the cacher. I'm pretty sure the cacher would have a great case against me.

Other than your shooting the cacher, I'm not sure why the cacher would have any case against you (i.e., the landowner). On what grounds would the cacher file this great case? Does your locality require all private property to be fenced and/or posted with "No Trespassing" signs?

 

But, since the cacher has a reason to assume that permission was acquired before the cache was placed, couldn't the cacher sue Groundspeak as well as me? He would not have been on my property if Groundspeak had not allowed that cache to be published.

Reasonable people are likely to realize that Groundspeak has no way to determine if every suggested cache location is legal. The cacher in your scenario leapt to such a silly conclusion at their own peril. I'm not sure on what other grounds the cacher might sue Groundspeak. Knowschad might or might not believe that policing for some illegal cache placements implies liability for all, but I've never seen anything that supports such a notion.

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Other than your shooting the cacher, I'm not sure why the cacher would have any case against you (i.e., the landowner). On what grounds would the cacher file this great case? Does your locality require all private property to be fenced and/or posted with "No Trespassing" signs?

 

The only reason for mentioning no fences or signs was to rule out any visible reason for a cacher that he was not allowed to be where he was. In other words, a cacher goes looking for a cache with no reason to suspect that he has no business there. There is nothing at the cache to say that he is trespassing and he has reason to believe that permission was obtained for the cache to be placed there per the guidelines.

 

The case I am referring to would be the actual shooting. I believe the cacher would have a case against Groundspeak in addition to me, the guy who shot him for trespassing.

 

My liability is pretty clear.

 

But I am wondering how much liability Groundspeak would have in this situation since there is an assumed permission on the part of the finder due to the guidelines requiring adequate permission for placement of caches.

 

I'm sure since I have very small pockets that the cacher would be looking for a bigger target to pay his bills and compensate him for his injuries.

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Of course, disclaimers can only go so far, but for the sake of the discussion at hand, here is the disclaimer that we all "agree to" every time we view a cache page:

 

Geocaching.com Disclaimer

Cache seekers assume all risks involved in seeking a cache.

 

Geocaching.com is owned and operated by Groundspeak Inc. Information in the Geocaching.com database is updated regularly. Neither Groundspeak Inc., nor any agent, officer, employee or volunteer administrator of Groundspeak Inc. warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information and shall not be liable for any losses caused by such reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, portions may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on information obtained from Geocaching.com does so at his or her own risk.

 

Geocaching, hiking, backpacking and other outdoor activities involve risk to both persons and property. There are many variables including, but not limited to, weather, fitness level, terrain features and outdoor experience, that must be considered prior to seeking or placing a Cache. Be prepared for your journey and be sure to check the current weather and conditions before heading outdoors. Always exercise common sense and caution.

 

In no way shall Groundspeak Inc. nor any agent, officer, employee or volunteer administrator of Groundspeak Inc., be liable for any direct, indirect, punitive, or consequential damages arising out of, or in any way connected with the use of this website or use of the information contained within.

 

This website is for personal and non-commercial use. You may not modify, copy, excerpt, distribute, transmit, publish, license, create derivative works from, or sell any information, or services obtained from this website.

 

Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.

 

Individual geocaches are owned by the person(s) who physically placed the geocache and/or submitted the geocache listing to geocaching.com.

 

Groundspeak Inc. reserves the right to change the terms, conditions, and notices under which this website is offered.

 

(portions bolded by me)

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But I am wondering how much liability Groundspeak would have in this situation since there is an assumed permission on the part of the finder due to the guidelines requiring adequate permission for placement of caches.

People can sue for lots of silly reasons, even with little likelihood of winning. Basing a lawsuit on the assumption that Groundspeak has verified that every cache has been placed with adequate permission probably falls into the list of silly reasons, in my humble opinion. If the cacher bothered to read Groundspeak guidelines, then they would have read this: "By submitting a geocache listing, you assure us that you have adequate permission to hide your cache in the selected location."

 

A reasonable case might be made against the cache owner who submitted the geocache listing and assured Groundspeak that adequate permission had been obtained. But I don't see a great case against Groundspeak itself. Of course, I also don't believe that policing some illegally placed caches implies liability for all illegally placed caches.

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This is a good example of inconsistency among reviewers. I was refused a cache since it was too close to the Metro North Tracks. It was at a public viewing platform 25-30 feet above and 25-30 feet off to the side of the tracks in a rural area. I know of one in upstate NY on a Pedestrian bridge above a very busy class 1 mainline, which must have been OK'd by a reviewer. The one under discussion in this thread, likewise must have been OK'd by a reviewer.

 

Just an observation.

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Suppose GS declines to publish a cache that is along an active railroad's right of way. Then, sometime later, a person trespasses on another parcel of private property while trying to find a bison tube and is arrested, and he decides to sue GS.

 

Do you really think that his lawyer is going to use the denial of one illegally placed cache to argue that, by publishing the other illegal cache, GS has endorsed it as being legal?

 

Is you do, then do you think it is wise for GS to continue vetoing illegally placed caches?

Sue somebody because you got arrested? I suppose it could happen.

We appear to be in agreement that such a lawsuit would seem rather silly. I also think that the earlier imagined lawsuit by someone with a stubbed toe would be just as silly and just as groundless.

 

I can think of at least one way to sue somebody because I got arrested although not sure how successful I'd be winning of course ;). If the cache were legally placed (ie: with permission) and then somehow the property owner decides that you are not welcome on their property including the cache might not be welcome either, etc.

 

I'd agree if the cache were placed illegally in the above situation, and GS allowed it... I'd still sue but would I sue GS? Not necessarily. I'm just making a point whether a cache is placed legally or not and by following trespassing laws given an owner does not welcome said cacher ( on any kind of private property, ROW included as some of them are private too).

 

This is why I will not hunt caches in areas that are potential for trespassing issues, including railroads, but I also look for the safety factor too, some caches are literally on the side of the highway with nowhere to park and you have to walk to it no matter how unsafe it is I won't go for it. Again, GS has a disclaimer that I am responsible for my own safe conduct.

 

The only other way I can think of suing GS would be if they didn't shut down cache listings due to unsafe conditions but then that brings up my earlier point above they disclaimed that you are responsible for your own safety concerns.

 

This doesn't imply that any of these scenarios would be winnale.. however silly they are.

 

Edited by mynetdude
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But, since the cacher has a reason to assume that permission was acquired before the cache was placed, couldn't the cacher sue Groundspeak as well as me?

 

In the United States, anyone can sue anyone else for anything, anytime. I could go down to the courthouse and file suit against you, right now, for any grievance real or imagined.

 

The question is, could they win their lawsuit?

 

I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that in the case you described, the cacher would have no grounds for a lawsuit against Groundspeak. They might, however, have a strong case against the cache owner.

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But, since the cacher has a reason to assume that permission was acquired before the cache was placed, couldn't the cacher sue Groundspeak as well as me?

 

In the United States, anyone can sue anyone else for anything, anytime. I could go down to the courthouse and file suit against you, right now, for any grievance real or imagined.

 

The question is, could they win their lawsuit?

 

I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that in the case you described, the cacher would have no grounds for a lawsuit against Groundspeak. They might, however, have a strong case against the cache owner.

 

You'd have a pretty tough time finding an attorney to help you in your frivilous lawsuit, though, and even if you did, the court would toss it out, and very likely fine you for wasting their time.

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But, since the cacher has a reason to assume that permission was acquired before the cache was placed, couldn't the cacher sue Groundspeak as well as me?

 

In the United States, anyone can sue anyone else for anything, anytime. I could go down to the courthouse and file suit against you, right now, for any grievance real or imagined.

 

The question is, could they win their lawsuit?

 

I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that in the case you described, the cacher would have no grounds for a lawsuit against Groundspeak. They might, however, have a strong case against the cache owner.

 

You'd have a pretty tough time finding an attorney to help you in your frivilous lawsuit, though, and even if you did, the court would toss it out, and very likely fine you for wasting their time.

Bah! No attorney needed. Filing a lawsuit is easy if you spend a couple hours on the interwebs researching how to do it. In my local jurisdiction, the filing fee is just under $150 in grown-up court, and under $100 in small claims.

 

In North Carolina I don't think the court can fine an individual for filing a frivolous lawsuit. There was a news item a while back about a prisoner who had filed hundreds of frivolous suits against the state prison. The gist of the story was that there was no way to stop him, the courts would have to keep wasting time on each suit as it was filed.

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