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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

Haunted Case Law

Though some may think that all cases are a little scary there are a few judges who go above and beyond. We mentioned in an earlier post the case against Satan, and it’s pretty scary that he got off, but there are also a couple of other cases worth a mention this All Hallows’ Eve.

One of many cases written in verse, In Re Love, 61 B.R. 558 (Bankr.S.D.Fla. 1986) takes on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. A taste—

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
Over many quaint and curious files of chapter seven lore
While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door,
“Tis some debtor” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this and nothing more.””


“As I with the ruling wrestled
In the statute I saw nestled
A presumption with a flavor clearly in the debtor’s favor.
No evidence had I taken
Sua sponte appeared foresaken.
Now my motion caused me terror
A dismissal would be error.
Upon consideration of § 707(b), in anguish, loud I cried
The court’s sua sponte motion to dismiss under § 707(b) is denied.”

It’s doubly scary since it’s about consumer debt relief.

The other case that bears a mention on Halloween is the famous haunted house case, Stambovsky v. Ackley, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (N.Y.App.Div 1991). The plaintiff had purchased a house and later found out that the house was reputed to be haunted and wanted out of the deal. The judge was obviously tickled by the facts of the case, and peppered the opinion with such gems as the following—

“…plaintiff hasn’t a ghost of a chance, I am nevertheless moved by the spirit of equity to allow…”

From the perspective of a person in the position of plaintiff herein, a very practical problem arises with respect to the discovery of a paranormal phenomenon: “Who you gonna’ call?”…”

“…the notion that a haunting is a condition which can and should be ascertained upon reasonable inspection of the premises is a hobgoblin which should be exorcised from the body of legal precedent and laid quietly to rest.”

And even—

“Finally, if the language of the contract is to be construed as broadly as defendant urges to encompass the presence of poltergeists in the house, it cannot be said that she has delivered the premises “vacant” in accordance with her obligation under the provisions of the contract rider.”

Enjoy the light side of law today, and have a very Happy Halloween!

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