Outside the suburban dwelling of this Sidebar reporter and his family, the “Easter Bunny” appears almost daily. This rabbit — probably a regular ol’ Eastern cottontail — has been christened the magical king of Easter folklore by my 3- and 4-year-old sons.
Just yesterday, after spotting him through the window, the tykes darted toward the porthole, screaming his name and reciting their Easter 2018 wish list.
Oddly, though, they are terrified of the mall’s Easter Bunny, annually refusing to sit still for the customary photo shoot.
That leads us into this edition of Sidebar.
According to a recent ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, plaintiff Cynthia Rogers was none too happy to see a life-sized holiday hare in her local Walgreens.
According to court records, Rogers swung by the store to grab some pistachios and was headed toward checkout when her peripheral vision detected “a large animal with some type of movement.” That large animal was a 5-foot-8-inch store clerk in a bunny costume, and the movement was apparently a wave.
Rogers claimed that “in fear” she twisted her body and attempted to run. She clutched her chest and fell against some shelves, Rogers said, injuring her back.
In her deposition, Rogers alleged that Walgreens shouldn’t have had the Easter Bunny inside the store, “blended in with everything.” It looked, she said, “like a wild animal or something.”
The court noted that Rogers’ complaint didn’t claim the store owed her a duty as a business invitee, or even squarely allege that an employee in a bunny costume created a dangerous condition, “likely because such an allegation would be patently ridiculous.”
“If this was enough to constitute breach of a duty of care, Halloween costume stores ought to take caution nationwide,” Judge Bruce Hendricks wrote. “Fortunately for the costume industry, it is not, and both Halloween stores and organizers of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can breathe a collective sigh of relief.”
In dismissing the claim, Hendricks added that the store openly displayed on its marquee and on a large display inside that the Easter Bunny was on-site and available for photographs.
Had the clerk been dressed as Michael Myers and, knife in hand, chased the plaintiff down the aisles, there might be a case here. Alas, it was just a man of less-than-average stature donning a rabbit suit.
In the end, this rabbit hole led to one entertaining district court opinion, but no golden egg for the plaintiff.