Top 3 Halloween Lawsuits Of All Time

Halloween lawsuits are a reprieve from the seriousness normally attributable to the courts. They can be silly, ghoulish, and downright bizarre. They involve haunted houses; eggs and shaving cream; and a good deal of childish behavior. In fact, Halloween lawsuits are so amusing, that we’d like to share the top three, as compiled by Stephanie Rabiner of FINDLAW.Com.

1. Legally Haunted: Stambovsky v. Ackley

For years, Ackley advertised her home as haunted. Her assertions were printed in local newspapers and in Reader’s Digest. But when Stambovsky purchased the home, he had no clue about its spooky history. And when he learned, he was displeased.

Stambovsky sued to have the sale rescinded, leading a New York appellate court to declare the home "haunted, as a matter of law."

2. Burning Sheep: Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson

Plaintiff and his wife attended a party as Little Bo Beep and her sheep. The husband’s sheep costume was covered in cotton batting, which caught on fire when he lit a cigarette.

The Ferlitos argued that Johnson & Johnson did not warn consumers that cotton is flammable, and that a warning would have prevented the incident.
The 6th Circuit didn’t buy the argument, either.

3. Dead Neighbors: Purtell v. Mason

When neighbors protested the Purtells’ 38-foot motor home, the couple retaliated by erecting tombstones in their front yard. Each prop included a neighbor’s name, and their address as the date of death. For example:

Bette wasn’t ready,
But here she lies
Ever since that night she died,
12 feet deep in this trench,
Still wasn’t deep enough
For that wenches stench!

The neighbors complained to police, who then removed them. The Purtells sued on First Amendment grounds.

As you can see, Halloween lawsuits bring much needed levity to the law.

Related Resources:
•    Case Law from the Crypt (NYSBA Journal)
•    Halloween Laws: Keep Your Halloween Party Legal (FindLaw Blotter)
•    Halloween 101: Top 3 Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips (FindLaw Common Law)

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