#SafeAndSpooky: A Ghostly Lawsuit!

With haunted house prop malfunctions, flammable costumes, and poisoned candy, the Halloween season provides us with plenty of strange legal news. But one 1991 lawsuit, though it didn’t involve Halloween, just might take the cake for being the spookiest!

Stambovsky vs Ackley: A real haunted house?

Helen Ackley, of Nyack, New York, believed that her house was haunted. She alleged that ghosts would leave little trinkets, like rings, around the house for her grandchildren. Then, the items would later mysteriously disappear. Her daughter also reported encounters with the home’s spirits, including being woken up in the mornings by something violently shaking her bed. Over the years, Ackley reported the hauntings to various local newspapers and even national sources like Reader’s Digest. Her home was featured as part of a walking tour of the town.

The ghosts, though, were not her biggest issue. When she sold her house around 1990, both Ackley and her realtor neglected to mention the house’s haunted history. When the new homeowner, Jeffrey Stambovsky, found out, he sued Ackley for fraudulent misrepresentation. He argued that he should have been informed of the alleged ghosts. According to him, the claims of the home being a haunted house reduced the value of the house.

Can you sue after buying a haunted house?

When the case went to court, the New York Supreme Court found that since Ackley had reported the hauntings to both local and national sources, then it was a legal haunted house. Regardless of whether the stories were true or not, the rumors were enough. This, therefore, decreased its property value. However, the court also determined that Stambovsky would not receive any damages, based on the principle of caveat emptor. According to this principle, a person who purchases something is responsible for making sure it is in good condition.

But the main question is: how do the ghosts feel about this haunted house lawsuit?!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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