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What Happens When People Sue Haunted Houses?
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Summary: When customers sue haunted houses for being scary, they mostly never win.

When it comes to Halloween haunted houses, they better be scary or people might demand their money back or leave a bad Yelp review. But what if the house is scary? You’d think most patrons would leave with a giddy adrenaline high and tell all their friends, but for some litigious folks, they decide to sue.


But how good of an idea is it to sue a haunted house for being scary? According to attorney Randy Maniloff of White and Williams, previous cases show that the House always wins.

Maniloff stated that most businesses must ensure their visitors are free of danger, but haunted houses have the unique purpose of making guests excited by putting them in dangerous situations. When people claim that they are frightened or in peril, courts must decide if the haunted house has any liability for their guests’ emotional state, but courts tend to favor the defendant in these circumstances.

“Despite rules designed to hold businesses liable when visitors leave in worse shape than when they entered, courts have consistently pointed to the unique nature of haunted houses to prevent those injured from recovering,” Maniloff wrote for USA Today. 

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The Philadelphia-based attorney listed prior cases where customers sued haunted houses to show how difficult it is for plaintiffs to win these types of lawsuits. For instance, in 1996, the family of a 10-year-old girl sued a Louisiana haunted house when she ran into a cinder block wall covered with plastic after a character jumped out at her. The court rejected her claim that covering a wall in a haunted house created a dangerous situation.

“The very nature of a Halloween haunted house is to frighten its patrons,” the court stated. “In order to get the proper effect, haunted houses are dark and contain scary and/or shocking exhibits. Patrons in a Halloween haunted house are expected to be surprised, startled and scared by the exhibits, but the operator does not have a duty to guard against patrons reacting in bizarre, frightened and unpredictable ways. Operators are duty-bound to protect patrons only from unreasonably dangerous conditions, not from every conceivable danger.”

Maniloff pointed out that patrons who are scared in the house should be aware that their experiences may continue all the way until they drive home in their cars. In 1997, a woman was injured in New Orleans after she was exiting a haunted house and a Jason Vorhees-character popped out with a chainsaw with the intent of scaring her one last time. The court said that even though the woman did not expect the last scene, that did not make it unreasonable. In fact, the New Orleans court and others said that those who attended haunted houses voluntarily paid money to experience frights, and she lost her case.

“It has long been said that Americans can sue for anything. At least when it comes to a haunted house, that does not include getting what you paid for. The legal system is sometimes criticized for awarding money to the seemingly undeserving. But for those injured by the fright of a haunted house, the system is not that scary,” Maniloff said.

Source: USA Today 

What do you think of people who sue haunted houses? Let us know in the comments below.



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