Everyone seems to get a little nutty around the holidays. The shopping whirlwind, seeing the in-laws, or even putting up the best outdoor decorations in the neighborhood make this the most stressful time of the year for many people. You may not always associate the holidays with lawsuits. But holiday conditions make the chances of getting hurt due to someone else’s negligence higher now than at most other times of the year.
As the The Bruner Law Firm legal team looks back at holidays past, we’re reminded of some of the most bizarre holiday lawsuits we’ve seen. We’ve also included a list of the most common types of lawsuits so you can take steps to keep yourself and your family safe.
The Three Craziest Holiday Lawsuits
The holidays don’t always bring out the best in people. Here are some holiday plans gone wrong.
Osborne vs. Power, 1995. In a holiday lights case that would make even Clark Griswold envious, Jennings Osborn of Little Rock, AK, was sued by his neighbors after he decorated his six-acre property with an astonishing 3.5 million lights. The display grew each year, lasting just over a month. People from all over the state flocked to the festive display. But, weeks of traffic congestion in the neighborhood quickly frustrated Osborne’s neighbors.
They filed a lawsuit against Osborne, stating that the display attached too much traffic and would make it impossible for emergency responders to respond to calls quickly. The suit also noted the nuisance the traffic caused. One neighbor said it took more than two hours to reach the corner store. The court ordered Osborne to curtail the duration of the display and how long the house was lit. The case even reached the U.S. Supreme Court, although Osborne lost. His display eventually moved to Disneyworld and was on display there until 2015.
Cruel and Unusual?
Inmates in the Maricopa County, AZ, jail sued the city after being forced to listen to Christmas and other holiday music for hours on end. The suit noted that the songs violated the inmates’ religious rights. Sheriff Joe Arpaio played classics, like Feliz Navidad and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which the inmates claimed was cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. District Court judge disagreed, dismissing the case and denying the inmates’ requests for damages.
Unwilling to Share?
If you have children, you’re probably familiar with the Elf on the Shelf tradition, created by Carol Aebersold. These friendly elves keep an eye on children in the home, reporting who’s naughty and nice to Santa. They move each night and often leave the children surprises (tricks and treats). However, Carol sued Maureen and Manus McGee for creating knockoff elves, taking her idea and concept, and profiting from it. Carol is suing for lost profits and to have all knockoff elves off store shelves.
What Are the Most Common Kinds of Personal Injury Cases Around the Holidays?
A personal injury claim is an injury one party suffers due to the negligence of another. Some of the most common causes we see around this time of year include:
- Slip-and-falls on wet floors. In parts of the country where there is snow, people track in ice, slush, and rain into stores and residences, where the entryways can become slippery and dangerous. Wear good shoes and be cautious when entering and exiting a building. The property owner or homeowner could be liable for injuries that result from a slip and fall.
- Motor vehicle accidents. Many people travel for the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or New Year’s holidays. Many of those people may indulge in adult beverages before getting on the road to their holiday destination or when returning home. If you were injured in a vehicle crash caused by another driver, you or the passengers in your vehicle could suffer severe injuries. Since Florida is a no-fault state, you can turn to your own insurance first for payment of your medical bills.
- Contaminated food. The chances of food poisoning are higher this time of year. Many people attend catered holiday parties, and buffets are common. However, if the caterer or restaurant doesn’t follow state regulations for proper food safety and handling, people can get sick. Be careful what you eat and where you eat it. And if you become ill, you may have a claim against the host or the caterer.
Do You Need Help with a Holiday Lawsuit?