But what if I called the same case "The Ghostbusters Case?"
You might perk up and say "Hm? What's that now? Was this on Law & Order?"
So come on along and I'll tell you a little tale of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir... but Mrs. Muir was actually Mrs. Ackley... and Mrs. Ackley got sued by Mr. Stambovsky... who wasn't a ghost...
Aw, just read on...
The year was 1977, and Reader's Digest came out with their May issue which contained a story by Helen Ackley called "Our Haunted House on the Hudson." The tale told of Mrs. Ackley's run-ins by herself and her family with three ghosts that lived in her Hudson Valley, New York home along the Hudson river. (I've scanned the article for your perusal at the bottom of the post.)
The ghosts were peaceful, doing helpful and slightly mischievous things like shaking the bed every morning when it was time to wake up; and leaving gifts of coins and baby rings that would disappear later.
Fast-forward to 1989-90.
Mrs. Ackley wants to sell her house and move to Florida or Texas because the taxes are lower.
She puts the house up for sale but, and here's where the crux of the case is, never mentions to the buyer of her house that it's haunted.
No "Oh by the way, the house is haunted."
Or "Be sure to set the ghost for what time you want to wake up."
Or "Hey listen, the walls don't bleed or anything but you may get random gifts of coins and baby rings that'll disappear. From who? Oh the ghosts in the house. Didn't I mention that?"
Enter Mr. Stambovsky.
The Stambovskys from NYC put a deposit down on the house and then, as they're getting ready to close the deal, find out from a handy-man or some such local that they're buying the 'haunted house.'
Zoom to court!
The Stambovskys beef is that they weren't informed that the house is haunted and should be allowed to legally back out of the deal and recoup their deposit.
The Ackley camp said that New York state has a caveat emptor (Latin: "let the buyer beware") policy and it's not their problem that the Stambovskys didn't do their research.
Though originally the Stambovskys lost, they appealed and the case went to the New York Supreme Court.
This is where it gets interesting.
The NY State Supreme Court says that although the buyer SHOULD beware, there isn't much that can be done to discern that a house is haunted.
There was no "Googling" their address to see if a bunch of articles came up on their house being haunted.
I'm getting ahead of myself. I should back up and clarify for a moment: A judge for the New York State Supreme Court said that a house, Mrs. Ackley's house, was legally haunted.
Actually Judge Rubin said: "... having reported their presence in both a national publication and the local press, defendant is estopped to deny their existence, and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted."This is completely awesome because a Judge said a house is LEGALLY haunted.
That's a matter of public record.
That's out there.
To break it down a little further: the judge said what he said because he wanted to get past it and get to the real issue of the case and that was that Mrs. Ackley didn't give up all the info.
He's basically saying, "Look let's just agree that the house is haunted because the real problem here is something else."
But that's not where the fun stops.
Judges... well judges get punchy.
Think about it... they're sitting up there... listening to people talk all day... ARGUE all day. Every once in a while they get to bang a gavel. Not a heck of a lot of fun.
So this judge, when writing up his decision, went a little kooky:
"(A) very practical problem arises with respect to the discovery of a paranormal phenomenon: 'Who you gonna call?' as a title song to the movie Ghostbusters asks"
Again to break it down into layman's terms: the Judge basically said "Sure the buyer should beware, but when someone goes to buy a house, is he/she supposed to bring a plumber, architect, Terminix guy and a freakin' psychic to make sure the house is ok? That's ridiculous."
Bottom line: The Stambovskys got their deposit back and didn't have to buy the house.
The Ackleys sold the house to someone else and moved after all.
Well according to THIS link Helen was contacted by some paranormal researchers in Oregon who claimed to be able to contact the ghosts remotely.
Long story short: the ghosts weren't having fun and moved on. You can read up on the long-distance ghost-talking in a book called "Sir George, The Ghost of Nyack" which you can buy HERE." Written by those involved with the whole long-distance ghost talking-thing.
|The Haunted Nyack House - ktransit.com|
Sure enough, there it is.
It's been painted but it still has its Munsters-like Victorian roof and sits right along the beautiful Hudson river.
Interesting piece of trivia: the house is directly across the Hudson from Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown, NY) where we all know the ghost of the Headless Horseman roams.
The bigger picture, and something to be learned from this case is this: If you live in what's called in the Real Estate biz as a "stigmatized property," and you're going to sell that property... you'd better be upfront with what happened. Not all houses are The Amityville Horror house that has a long legend and film pedigree complete with murders AND ghosts.
She didn't say HOW MANY murders and totally disturbing things that had happened there, mind you... ("Oh by the way, there's a crazy gimp ghost in the house...").
You can read an interesting little write-up on "stigmatized properties" and the duty to disclose HERE.
So all this legal turmoil aside I ask you this dear readers:
If you were buying a house would you WANT to know it was haunted BEFORE you bought it, or would you bring in Bill Murray and take your chances?