In my favorite spooky case, a New York court held that a house was haunted as a matter of law. In Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (1991), the court held that a buyer was entitled to rescind his contract to purchase a house because of the existence of ghosts in the house. The court held that the seller, having reported ghostly activities in Reader’s Digest and numerous local publications, was estopped to deny the existence of ghosts and therefore, as a matter of law, the house was haunted. Id. at 256.
There may be a general duty not to scare others—but, according to the Louisiana Court of Appeals, that duty vanishes on Halloween: The “general duty not to scare” is modified on Halloween, when society “encourages children to transform themselves into witches, demons, and ghosts and play a game of threatening neighbors into giving them candy.” Bouton v. Allstate Insurance Co., 491 So.2d 56, 58 (La. Ct. App. 1986).
The infamous Michael Myers mask from the Halloween movies has even haunted one court. In Don Post Studios, Inc. v. Cinema Secrets, Inc., 124 F. Supp. 2d 311 (E.D. Pa. 2000), a court considered whether the creator of the Michael Myers mask could state claims for copyright and trade dress infringement against a party that had been given a non-exclusive license to produce the mask by the Halloween filmmaker.
And, in an opinion issued—appropriately—on October 31, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky upheld a trial court’s dismissal of a contract action against Spooky Hollow Realty Company. Langley v. Spooky Hollow Realty Co., 64 S.W.2d 459 (Ky. Ct. App. 1933).