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Paranormal Website Sued In America


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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This story is a few months old now and appeared in the Dayton Daily News.  I must admit we have been sitting on this for some time, but I think it is a valuable topic of conversation.  Essentially a home owner sued the authors of a book on the paranormal for portraying them as haunted and causing them distress when they were hounded by amateur ghost spotters and trespassers.  The court found in favour of the home owner by default as the authors did not respond to the legal action.

Quote:

Website ordered to pay $125,000 over ‘haunted’ mill claim
By Nancy Bowman, Staff Writer
Updated 10:36 AM Thursday, April 16, 2009

BETHEL TWP., Miami County — Staley Mill’s owner, who claimed false tales about the historic property being haunted turned her life into a nightmare, has received a judgment for more than $125,000 against a Columbus website operator.

Melissa Duer also was granted her request for a court order against Columbus-resident Andrew Henderson’s use of the Staley tale on the forgottenohio.com web site or any other site. The findings were made by Judge Robert Lindeman in Miami County Common Pleas Court.

Duer filed suit individually and for family trusts against those behind the book “Weird Ohio” and the Web site.

She is a descendant of Eli Staley, who built the Staley Mill, the oldest standing grist mill in the state. Duer claimed stories published about the mill, the Staley family and their history dating to the 1820s have attracted countless ghost hunters and the curious.

That activity forced her and her husband to spend thousands of dollars on security measures at the mill including $35,000 for an estate dog, Duer testified at a March hearing.

Just before that hearing, Lindeman ruled for “Weird Ohio,” saying those responsible for the book did not place the Duers in a false light, had no intent of emotional distress and had not trespassed or caused anyone else to trespass on the property. He issued a default judgment for Duer in the claim against Henderson and the web site after Henderson failed to respond to the legal challenge.

Duer’s lawyer, Jeremy Tomb of Troy, said the ruling in favor of the “Weird Ohio” authors will be appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

“We think they share some of the blame,” he said. The Staley story was removed from a second printing of the “Weird Ohio” book, he said.

If the information on the Staley property is not removed from the web site, he will file for contempt, Tomb said. The Duers are obviously happy” with the judge’s ruling on damages and the order to remove the information from the web, he said.

Lindeman said evidence in the court record did not show actual malice on the part of Henderson. Because Henderson did not respond to the suit, it was appropriate legally to grant Duer’s request for damages, he said.

The damages claimed included: $1,921 for an invisible fence; $1,710 for private security; $27,606 for diminished value to the property from rumors it is haunted; $57,217 in legal fees; $6,340 in litigation expenses; and $35,000 for the dog.

Duer testified extra money was spent on the dog specially trained to be under command.

“We didn’t want just any pet or regular dog that could possibly bite people,” she said in court.

The dog was seen as more affordable thanpaying off-duty sheriff’s deputies to provide security around-the-clock.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2292 or nbowman@DaytonDailyNews.com.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/website-ordered-to-pay-125000-over-haunted-mill-claim-83396.html

This is one reason we only cover well known haunted loactions that have already been covered in other media and if the location is private then we stress it in the articles.  We certainly do not condone trespass.

Red Don's picture
Red Don
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America

$35,000 for a dog?  They coul dhave hired someone for that amount surely.  I take we won't be seeing Staley Mill on the website now.

I know this was a civil court decision and may I suppose be over turned in an appeal, but do you think sites such as this and authors have to be extra careful?

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indiagold
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America

this is a fascinating topic
how much do you have to disclose to a prospective purchaser concerning "paranormal activity".  from my general knowledge it would be better to err on the side of caution.
I think there was a case in recent years about the famous Chingle Hall in Lancashire- heard in the High court at Liverpool. I'll look up further detail.
i rather think that the problem was the reverse in that the new owners were upset that there was not the level of paranormal events they had believed!

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indiagold
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America

Ah yes here is some more information on the chingle hall legal case

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/hauntedhouse-buyers-misled-1424004.html

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indiagold
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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America

Yes I remember the Chingle case and I have spent a few nights there myself.  In fact I remember being part of a delegation that took an investigation proposal to Dr Kirkham back in the mid 1990's that would have really helped the property and its case but he wanted far too much money from us to be viable from our point of view as we were representing it for an educational charity.

Anyway, as ghosts are not yet scientifically proven, I think anybody buying a house on the premise of it being haunted want to slow down, and take stock off the situation.

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indiagold
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America

Hello Ian
There are a number of issues here, and where do we start?
It is unusual to have a property owner complain that there are not enough ghosties; It is usually the reverse, whereby, particularly in the nineteenth century when many people leased properties, they were terrified that some other Landlord would damn their property, for want of a better word,by suggesting that it was haunted and therefore untenantable.There is the theory as I am sure you know,that some poltergeist activity in council owned homes are purely the result of the tenants wishing for a better property.
If I were a paranormal investigator, I would be wary of being used by many parties for their own, possibly financial and or psychological ends.

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indiagold
Always keep an open mind about things; But make sure your brain doesn't fall out.


Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Website Sued In America
indiagold wrote:

There is the theory as I am sure you know,that some poltergeist activity in council owned homes are purely the result of the tenants wishing for a better property.

I know the theory and have come across a few likely cases in the past.



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