A California appellate recently released an opinion in a case brought by a haunted house patron who was injured while visiting the attraction. According to the court’s written opinion, in 2011, the plaintiff purchased tickets to a haunted experience in San Diego County. Evidently, the haunted house was an interactive experience where actors jump out of hidden spaces in an attempt to frighten the patron. As is the case with most haunted houses of this nature, the actors would use props to enhance the “haunted” experience.
During the patron’s visit he completed the haunted house and passed through what he thought was the exit of the attraction. However, the exit was a ruse and the attraction was not actually over. There was one last scene, often referred to as the “Carrie” effect – as it is designed to make the patron believe that they were out of the house and on their way home. But as the patron was leaving the house, he was faced with an actor with a fake chainsaw.
The patron became terrified and fell while being chased by the actor. The patron then brought a suit against the haunted attraction, claiming assault and negligence. The lower court held in favor of the haunted attraction, under the theory of “assumption of risk.” The patron then appealed to the appellate court, who agreed with the lower court’s decision. They found that there was no evidence that could lead the court to believe that the haunted house acted unreasonably and therefore summary judgment should be granted in the defendant’s favor.
Assumption of Risk Doctrine under New Mexico Law
Assumption of the risk is a legal defense that may apply when a defendant argues that a plaintiff knew the risks involved with engaging in a dangerous activity, and thereby accepted those risks by willingly participating in the activity. Most often this defense is raised in response to a premises liability claim.
Summary Judgment Law in New Mexico
In the above situation, the judge made a decision before the trial began and found in favor of the defendant, granting summary judgment. Summary judgment occurs when a judge rules in favor of one party before going to trial. Summary judgment motions can be filed by either a plaintiff or defendant. These motions are most often granted when the trier of fact believes that one party does not have any viable evidence to prove their claim or has no defense to a viable claim.
Have You Been Injured While Participating in an Attraction or Sport?
If you have been injured after attending an interactive attraction such as the one above, you should consider contacting an attorney at the Fine Law Firm. New Mexico has very specific laws depending on the type of attraction that a patron is participating in, and it is consequently important that injured parties consult with an attorney before pursuing a case. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in preparing your case to your advantage and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE to schedule your free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Maine Supreme Court Affirms Jury Verdict Denying Damages to Injured Neighbor, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2015.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Announces New Technology, Soon to Be Required on All Vehicles, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 10, 2015.