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Article updated: 1/23/2013 12:16 PM

Lawyers: Woman who got hurt at Aurora haunted house was at fault

By Harry Hitzeman

Defense attorneys in a lawsuit in which an Elburn woman says she sustained a concussion while visiting a haunted house in 2010 argue that she failed to exercise caution even though she knew danger was present.

Elizabeth Teevans argues that she was injured when she visited "The Basement of the Dead" in downtown Aurora Oct. 10, 2010. The lawsuit, which seeks more than $50,000 damages and a jury trial, argues that Teevans was hit on the head by an unknown haunted house worker who swung down from a doorway.

In court filings, one defense attorney says that Teevans was negligent, is to blame for the incident and that a judge should ban, reduce or limit any type of monetary award she could receive.

"(The) said injuries and damages are a direct and proximate result of her own carelessness and negligence," wrote Esther Grossman, an attorney for West New York LLC, which leased the space for the haunted house at 42 W. New York St.

"To the extent a dangerous condition was present on the premises complained of by the plaintiff, notwithstanding her knowledge of the conditions and dangers she would encounter, plaintiff entered the premises on her own accord." Grossman argued.

Todd and Tressa Baraniak of Naperville also are named as defendants and haunted house operators in the suit. Their attorney, Thomas Mangan, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reached by phone, Grossman also declined additional comment.

In Teevans' suit, which was filed last fall, attorney Todd Wallace argues that his client began to experience "concussive syndrome," has not been to work since visiting the haunted house and still needs treatment.

"While proceeding through the premises, an agent of the defendants swung down from a doorway and struck Plaintiff (Teevans) on the head. Due to the nature of the location of the incident, Plaintiff was unable to determine the identity of the agent, and was unable to seek immediate assistance," according to the suit. "Plaintiff, in her injured state, proceeded to exit the premises."

According to the website for "Basement of the Dead," the site was the city's largest laundry beginning in the 1920s. But Imus Kilya and his son, Al, were severely scalded in 1964 when a boiler exploded.

The pair never returned to work and vowed to get even.

The website also cites awards the haunted house has won and states in a FAQ section that: "Our monsters are not allowed to touch you. Of course, in the darker areas, something may accidentally bump into you but our monsters will never grab you."

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