Ever watch a horror film and think about all the potential tort claims? Think of all the car manufacturers who could be sued because their vehicles failed to start when needed the most. Certainly, those under-staffed hospitals in the Halloween movies breached a duty of care. And, what about premises liability claims for all those slip and falls suffered while fleeing the killer?
Just imagine the possibilities!
As we here at Abnormal Use like to believe, horror films are a microcosm of real life. Take this new suit in Illinois as an example. According to CBS Chicago, the father of a girl who tripped while being chased by a Halloween character has sued Six Flags. Last October, the girl visited Six Flags Great America for the Halloween-themed “Fright Fest.” While walking through the park, a “character” jumped out of a port-a-potty and chased the girl, squirting her with a water gun. As is always the case when fleeing a villain, the girl tripped and fell, suffering some scrapes on her arms and legs. The girl’s father is now seeking $30,000 in damages on her behalf. The suit alleges the park was negligent in encouraging employees to frighten and chase patrons despite the presence of tripping hazards. The report, however, does not indicate what tripping “hazard” caused the girl to fall. Based on knowledge of horror films, we assume that fleeing from a predator creates new tripping hazards.
Even though the facts in the report are sparse, Six Flags’ liability in this case is questionable. While we do not know the age of the girl, by attending an event known as “Fright Fest,” she should have assumed the risk of being confronted by a “Halloween character.” Admittedly, jumping out of a port-a-potty is a little sketchy, but that fact alone shoudn’t render the park negligent. Unfortunately, we do not know how the character pursued the girl. Chasing her violently and physically pushing her to the ground is one thing. Pursuing her at a Jason Voorhees-like pace is another.
Sure, all is fun until someone gets hurt. But, do we want to water down haunted houses and Halloween experiences over the fear of some scrapes and bruises?
At least movie directors don’t have these same constraints.