Griffin v. Haunted Hotel, Inc.Annotate this Case
Haunted Hotel operates four Halloween attractions in San Diego County, including The Haunted Trail located in Balboa Park. The Haunted Trail operates from September through October, ending on Halloween. In October 2011 Appellant Scott Griffin purchased a ticket to experience The Haunted Trail, an outdoor haunted house type of attraction where actors jump out of dark spaces often inches away from patrons, holding prop knives, axes, chainsaws, or severed body parts. After passing what he believed was the exit, Griffin unexpectedly was confronted by a final scare known as the "Carrie" effect (so named because patrons are led to believe the attraction is over, only to be met by one more extreme fright). This was delivered by an actor wielding a gas powered chainsaw (no chain) who approached Griffin, frightened him, and gave chase when Griffin ran away. Griffin was injured when he fell while fleeing. Griffin sued The Haunted Hotel, Inc. alleging negligence and assault. The trial court granted Haunted Hotel's motion for summary judgment, determining under the primary assumption of risk doctrine Haunted Hotel did not breach any duty to Griffin. "The risk that a patron will be frightened, run, and fall is inherent in the fundamental nature of a haunted house attraction like The Haunted Trail. Moreover, on this record there is no evidence creating a triable issue Haunted Hotel unreasonably increased the risk of injury beyond those inherent risks or acted recklessly." The Court of Appeal affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Haunted Hotel.