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Halloween-Related Lawsuits

It is common knowledge that we live in a litigious society. According to U.S. Financial Education Foundation, it is estimated that over 40 million lawsuits are filed every year U.S. courts. Lawsuits can be scary enough, but Halloween-related lawsuits add additional spook factor.

Amusement Park Monsters

In February 2019, a Pennsylvanian mother sued Dorney Park and its parent company, Cedar Fair, for alleged injuries caused by being frightened by amusement park staff. Those monsters!

In this Halloween-related lawsuit, Shannon Sacco and her daughter demand more than $150,000 in penalties from Cedar Fair Management, Inc. for the girl’s injuries. According to the complaint, Sacco’s daughter, referred to as M.S., attended the amusement park with friends in September 2017. As the girls were traveling through a Halloween exhibit, many costume ghouls approached them, and M.S. warned them to back off because she didn’t want them to be terrified.

As the girls progressed through the attraction, this Halloween-related lawsuit alleged one of the ghouls ran up to the girl and screamed in her ear, resulting in her losing her footing and falling forward, causing her to suffer “severe, permanent and disabling injuries.” Although the lawsuit doesn’t expand on the nature of the injuries, it alleges, they’ve caused “pain, emotional and mental suffering and impairment of physical functions.” It further alleges M.S. has needed medical care and has been unable to maintain her customary activities or hold a job.

Friday the 13th Movie Copyright Lawsuit

Fans of Friday the 13th know that it’s been over a decade since the series has seen a new film. This is due to a bitter legal dispute between Victor Miller, the film’s original screenwriter, and director Sean S. Cunningham, the film’s director. In 2016, Victor Miller issued notices on Cunningham, Miller, Inc. and Horror, Inc. seeking to terminate the 1979 grant of his copyright on the screenplay to Manny, Inc. Horror, Inc. and Manny, Inc. filed a lawsuit declaring that the termination notices were invalid because the screenplay was a work made for hire, claiming that Miller was an employee of Manny at the time he wrote the piece. Miller responded in a counter claim seeking a declaration that his termination notices were valid because he wrote the screenplay as an independent contractor, not an employee of Manny, Inc. As an independent contractor, he was entitled to ownership of the story.

Did Victor Miller Win?

Yes, but it’ll be a long time before Jason Voorhees will be seen again wielding a machete and mowing down innocent bystanders.

In the initial matter, the court determined that the “Friday the 13th” screenplay was not a work made for hire, and that Miller’s termination notice validly terminated Horror’s rights to the copyright of the screenplay. Since this ruling Sean Cunningham worked to have the decision reversed; Horror, Inc. filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on October 19, 2018.  On September 30 of this year, the appellate court entered an opinion affirming the lower court’s decision awarding Mr. Miller a copyright termination victory. As part of his compensation, Victor Miller will reclaim the rights to the franchise he helped develop.

Flammable Sheep

Frank and Susan Ferlito dressed as Little Bo Peep and her sheep for a Halloween party. Mr. Ferlito’s homemade sheep outfit was built from cotton balls donated by Johnson & Johnson. Mr. Ferlito’s suit caught fire when he lit a cigarette at the celebration. Consequently, he was severely burned. After that, the Fertilos filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the company failed to notify them.

Both of the Ferlitos admitted in court that they were aware of the product’s flammability before they bought it. Mrs. Ferlito also failed to say that a notice on the package would have stopped her from making the outfit with cotton balls. As a result, in this product liability action, Johnson & Johnson’s failure to warn did not prove to be a contributing factor to Mr. Ferlito’s injuries.

The Nightmare of The Broken Nose

Deborah Mays walked into a dark, haunted house expecting to be terrified by what she found there. The person who yelled as Mays was walking through the house emerged from the shadows and sprinted after her. Mays tried to flee when she was shocked and slammed against a cinderblock wall that had been draped in black fabric.

Mays’ nose was fractured as a result, and he needed two surgeries to fix it. Mays sued the proprietors of the spooky mansion.

When someone enters a haunted home, they expect to be astonished, startled, and worried by the displays; thus, the defendant had no obligation to safeguard Mays from “reacting in unusual, fearful and unpredictable ways,” the court said. Since the haunted house operators were not found responsible for the plaintiff’s damages, they were not held liable.


Banana Costume Dispute

In 2017 a costume manufacturing company, Rasta Imposta, sued Kangaroo Manufacturing for copyright infringement of their banana costumes.

In 2010 Rasta secured copyright registration for its full-body banana costume and shortly after developed a business relationship with Yagoozon, a wholesale company. Yagoozoon purchased and resold Rasta’s banana costumes. The company’s founder then co-founded Kangaroo, and following the deterioration of the business relationship with Rasta, began selling copycat versions of Rasta’s banana costumes.

According to a New York Times article, the judge assigned to the case “could not help himself. He used terms like ‘bananafest’ and ‘bananapalooza’ at a hearing, after wondering ‘whether the founding fathers had banana costumes in mind’ when they drafted the Constitution.”
His ruling was a split decision.

Boyer Law Firm is Here to Guide You

Some Halloween-related lawsuits aren’t as absurd as the others. Some of these lawsuits may end with plaintiffs receiving monetary compensation while others are dismissed for lack of evidence to support their claim.

What is common to all lawsuits is that unequivocally having an experienced litigation attorney on your side can go a long way to realizing your legal goals. Boyer Law Firm handles cases concerning breach of contract for both individuals and businesses, partnership disputes, tort claims, and business disputes.

If you would like to receive a free case evacuation and discuss strategy in a current or potential dispute, contact us for assistance.

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