Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

Inflated Pumpkin Collapse Insurance Debacle

It seems that every time a bounce house is inflated, it's bouncing away with toddlers inside. And our inflatable water slides are being shut down by federal consumer safety commissions. But we just can't stop blowing air into things and making them huge.

"There's nothing better than seeing a little kid walk into a giant pumpkin," Halloween Express owner Jon Majdoch told the Journal Sentinel. "They're just in awe." That was reason enough for Majdoch to forego the classic storefront and instead request a custom-made inflatable pumpkin in which to house his temporary costume shop; an inflatable pumpkin that collapsed, flooding the store, damaging goods inside, and leaving Majdoch unable to sell costumes and masks for two weeks leading up to Halloween last year. That tragedy kicked off some serious insurance litigation involving Majdoch's company and the manufacturer of the inflatable pumpkin.

Pumpkin Problems

Luckily, Majdoch and Halloween Express aren't out too much money after some "really, really, really hard" rains inundated the pumpkin store last October. Majdoch's insurer, Hastings Mutual, allegedly paid his company $101,744 in damages. But then Hastings Mutual went after the firm Majdoch contracted with to obtain the pumpkin, and its manufacturer.

Hastings sued Larger Than Life Inflatables, whose portfolio includes a Coca-Cola dome with entry through a huge blow-up bottle, a 20-foot-tall inflatable Budweiser can, and those nightmarish dancing tube figures outside every car dealership. They also named House of Bounce, who built the big pumpkin, claiming the pumpkin contained design and manufacturing defects, and looking to recoup the insurance money it paid out to Halloween Express.

A Big Tent

For its part, Larger Than Life claims Halloween Express is responsible for the collapse, blaming the costume company's "own negligence in the erection, maintenance or operation of the pumpkin." Even if the inflatable pumpkin was defective, Larger Than Life also argues, that's House of Bounce's problem, not theirs. House of Bounce has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

As for Majdoch, he's sticking to his sturdier, 100-foot-diameter, bright orange, inflatable pumpkin-tent stores this season. So, the "beloved Milwaukee Halloween tradition" (one of which has only been blown down once in the past) can continue.

Related Resources: