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Re: Monroe V. Defendant Amusement Park

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MEMORANDUM

To:        Rick Lasparri

From:  Examinee

Date:        July 30, 2013

Re:      Monroe v. Defendant Amusement Park

You asked me to prepare an argument section of our brief in support of our motion for summary judgment. I have omitted the statement of facts but have incorporated relevant facts into my argument between Vera Monroe (“Plaintiff”) and Defendant Amusement Park (“Defendant”). I have not concerned myself with issues of the Plaintiff’s comparative negligence or damages.

I.Caption

[omitted]

II. Statement of Facts

[omitted]

III. Legal Argument

  1. INTRODUCTION

A court will grant a motion for summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A material fact is a fact that would influence the outcome of the controversy (Larson v. Franklin High Boosters Club, Inc., Fr. Sup. Ct (2002)). In this case, the claims alleged by Plaintiff do not present a genuine dispute of material fact, which would influence the outcome of the controversy and, therefore, the Court should grant this motion for summary judgment in favor of the Defendant.

B.                 BECAUSE DEFENDANT HAS NO DUTY NOT TO FREIGHTEN PLAINTIFF AND TOOK ADEQUTE MEASURES TO ENSURE THAT THE HAUNTED HOUSE HAD NOT ONLY ADEQUATE PHYSICAL FACILITIES, BUT ALSO ADEQUATE PERSONNEL AND SUPERVISION FOR PATRONS ENTERING THE ESTABLISHMENT, PLAINTIFF DOES NOT HAVE A VALID CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENCE REGARDING THE INCIDENT OF RUNNING INTO THE WALL AND BREAAKING HER NOSE.

Whether Plaintiff has a valid claim of negligence against Defendant for her injuries which resulted from running into a wall inside the haunted house depend on whether she can establish all of the elements required for a negligence claim in this jurisdiction. In Franklin, a valid claim of negligence requires that the plaintiff prove (1) that there is a specific duty imposed on the defendant under the particular circumstances at issue, (2) that there was a breach of that duty that resulted in injury or loss, and that (3) that the risk which resulted in the injury or loss was encompassed within the scope of the protection extended by the imposition of that duty. (Larson v. Franklin). The Court in Larson explained that attendees of a haunted house “must realize that the very purpose of the attraction is to cause them to react in bizarre, frightened, or unpredictable ways.” (Larson, citing Dozer). It explained that in other circumstances there may be a duty not to frighten others, but in the circumstances of a haunted house this is not the case. Therefore, Defendant had no duty not to scare Plaintiff. The injuries in this claim arose when Plaintiff was frightened by a haunted house employee and “took four or five steps, running like crazy, ran into the wall face-first, and knocked herself silly.” This incident was not the product of poor conditions in the haunted house, but rather the very type of “bizarre, frightened, and unpredictable “response discussed in Larson. The Court in Larson also stated that there is duty in operating a haunted house to ensure that there are not only adequate physical facilities but also adequate personnel and supervision for patrons entering the establishment. This requires that the “role-playing individuals be adequately instructed should some unfortunate event occur which injured a patron.” In Larson, the Court held that the employees were not adequately instructed, but that is not the case with Defendant employees. Here, as stated by Ms. Brewster in her deposition, the employees were instructed that if a patron needed help of any sort they were to “call the doctor on duty in the main office.” In the case of her running into the wall in the last room of the haunted house, where Plaintiff alleges her injuries are the result of being frightened by the employees, the employees were adequately instructed and met their duty under Larson. In fact, she offered assistance, but before she could be of assistance, Plaintiff and her husband ran away. Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she did not ask for help. Ms. Brewster did not act unreasonably under the circumstances vis-à-vis the plaintiff.

The physical conditions in the haunted house were not a breach of the defendant’s duty towards Plaintiff. In Costello v. Shadowland Amusements, Inc., Fr. Sup. Ct (2007), the Court held that a different amusement park did not act reasonably when it was obviously aware of the dim lighting, placement of a bench on which the plaintiff tripped, and the hazard that it might present. The Court in Costello, citing Parker v. Muir (Fr. Sup. Ct. 2005) said that the factors to be considered are the past accident history of the condition in question and the degree to which the danger may be observed by a potential victim. Here, Plaintiff ran into a wall. Although the room was dimly lit, that is the case with any haunted house and a wall is not a hazardous condition. In addition, the fact that Plaintiff took 4-5 steps before hitting the wall shows that their pathway was not too narrow for a reasonably prudent patron to react to the frightening scenes without causing injury to herself. There is no indication that there had been any reported incidents of patrons running into that wall in the past. Since it was not a dangerous condition, it does not constitute a breach of Defendant’s duty.

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