Its the spooky time of year, here is a story we originally covered two Halloweens ago but was just too good to not bring back. (And I’m not just republishing this story cause I’m away at two conferences and too lazy to draft an article.)
A man hurt while running in fear from a costumed character wielding a fake chainsaw had his lawsuit against a haunted house type amusement park dismissed because…well that’s what haunted houses are supposed to do, scare you.
In 2011, Scott Griffin attended “The Haunted Trail,” an outdoor haunted house type of attraction in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The attraction features patrons walking through dark spaces and then costumed actors jump out of the dark holding prop knives, chainsaws, or severed body parts. Griffin, reached a faux exit and, believing he had survived the attraction, was “giggling and laughing” when one last actor sporting a gas powered chainsaw popped out, Griffin started running like a bat out of hell and the actor chased him. During the pursuit, Griffin fell and hurt his wrist.
Most people would expect such conduct when the entered such an attraction but apparently not Griffin who sued The Haunted Trail for negligence and assault. Not only is the risk of a haunted house inherent but the attraction even warns patrons at an orientation that if you run, you will get chased. The website for the attraction also warns about some hazardous obstacles in the park including tree roots and rocks. In the 14 years of The Haunted Trail, over 250,000 patrons have attended the event, 15 of them have fell during this last scene and just Griffin has sued over it.
The Haunted Trail had the case dismissed with the California court ruling that Griffin had assumed the risk when entering the trail and should have known he would get scared. Griffin wasn’t done fighting and appealed. The appellate court upheld the ruling holding that the risk that a patron will be frightened, run, and fall is inherent in the fundamental nature of a haunted house attraction and that there was no evidence that The Haunted Trail increased the risk of injury beyond those inherent risks or acted recklessly.
This nightmare is far from over for Griffin. The appellate court also awarded The Haunted Trail its attorneys’ fees in defending the appeal. Scott Griffin should probably stick to “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween” going forward.