If you pay money to go through a haunting experience and are warned it may scare you, you can't sue when it does.
On October 23, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, upheld a Superior Court decision to throw out a suit by a man who was injured running away from a frightening experience at Balboa Park's Haunted Trail.
Scott Griffin bought a ticket to experience the Haunted Trail, which operates in Balboa Park from September through Halloween. Actors leap out of dark spaces, holding knives, axes, chainsaws, and other spooky things. Ticket buyers are warned that the trail "contains high impact scares" and is not suitable for certain persons, such as pregnant females.
Griffin was frightened by a ghoulish-looking actor carrying a gas-powered chainsaw (without the chain). Griffin ran and was injured. He sued the Haunted Hotel, Inc., parent of Haunted Trail, in Superior Court, alleging negligence and assault. His case was thrown out on the grounds that "Under the primary assumption of risk doctrine, there is no duty to eliminate or protect a plaintiff against risks that are inherent in a sport or [recreational] activity."
The appellate court agreed: "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," said the appellate court. "Being chased within the physical confines of The Haunted Trail by a chainsaw-carrying maniac is a fundamental part and inherent risk of this amusement. Griffin voluntarily paid money to experience it."