Breaking: Former Arcade Owner Suing City Over 1981 Arrest

Daniel D. Merton of the South Pepper Street neighborhood filed suit late yesterday against the City Council, municipal government, Mayor Wilders, four former city council members and two retired police officers over a 1981 arrest and conviction under the recently-repealed city ordinance banning the presence of stand-alone gaming devices within city limits.

The measure – repealed last week by the current city council – was instituted in 1946 with the intention of prohibiting the use of pinball machines in casual gambling, and unintentionally banned cabinet-style video games within city limits. Although 230 video game arcades operated during the peak of the fad in 1984, very few were charged under the ordinance.

Merton, then owner of Space Shuttle Games on NE Attleboro Ave, was charged the maximum fine under the ordinance during a uniformed police officer’s response to a call regarding (according to the police report) “unruly youths kicking a Donkey Kong machine.”

He is seeking damages for lost revenue (a one-time fine of $75 per machine, plus 27 years’ interest), emotional distress, and violation of civil liberties. A judge is expected to rule on the suit’s validity early next week.
– Jon Morris

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