A mall in Maine sacked Old St. Nick who was neither jolly nor nice. The mall responded to complaint with a classic “Bad Santa, No Cookie.” Parents say that the rent-a-claus would not let kids sit on his lap unless the parents bought a picture and would turn down the gift requests of children on the spot. The mall is now looking for a jollier Santa. The North Pole seems to be developing a criminal element. This follows the arrest this week of one of Santa’s helpers. What would be interesting is an infliction of emotional distress claim by one of the shattered kids. He is not among the fallen Santas this year. [Warning: Santa spoiler discussion below]
In one case, a little girl asked for an American Girl doll and grumpy Santa said no . . . she would be getting an “American football.” When Jessica Mailhiot and her 6-year-old daughter, Chantel, went to see Santa this week, he demanded $20 bucks for a picture before he would let the girl sit on his lap.
Such scenes can be hard to explain to kids without saying that the parents participated in a sham Santa scene. Saying “Santa is off his meds” or “Santa having a bad day” sort of destroys the image of the giant elf.
In Toronto, another Santa was fired after a parent complained that the elf insulted her three-year-boy. The Santa first was late to work and then said that the boy’s red plaid coat made him look like “Paul Bunyan.” I am not sure why the mother thought that was somehow insulting or wrong. She said that she had to explain who Paul Bunyan was — not a terribly upsetting prospect.
The second statement was clearly non-jolly. Noticing that the boy was wearing a Toronto Maple Leaf symbol, Santa reportedly said “you shouldn’t be wearing that, they suck.” She says that the boy was “inconsolable.” I can only imagine what the Maple Leafs are feeling as well.
I remember years ago a friend of my mother recounted that she took her son to a mall Santa. He was jolly, a bit too friendly in fact. When he asked the kid for his name and heard “Seymour” in response, Santa blurted out “you’re kidding, my name is Seymour too!” A nearby elf reminded him that his name was Santa. Too much egg nog. Indeed, drunk Santas have caused problems in the past as have Santas who have wardrobe malfunctions.
Some day, one of these cases will make for an interesting lawsuit. The problem is that the injury is not learning the truth about Santa but learning a few years too early and in a traumatic fashion.
One of my sisters is responsible for such a rude and premature awakening. When her son Thomas informed her one year in the car that he did not believe in Santa, she responded while driving that she was waiting for this moment when he realized that there was no Santa or Easter Bunny. After a silence from the back seat, she then heard a distraught voice say, “there’s no Easter Bunny?”
If a Mall Santa makes a similar or more egregious mistake, is there an injury that can be the legitimate subject of a negligence lawsuit?
Source: USA Today