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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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The Perils of Swallowing Live Bluegill

NASHVILLE (CN) - A man was hospitalized for four days after choking on a live fish he tried to eat in a haunted house, he claims in a lawsuit.

Cameron Roth claims the Frightmare Manor should not have allowed people to eat live fish without medical supervision.

Roth sued Tennessee Community Enrichment. dba Frightmare Manor, American Strategic Holdings LLC and "Frightmare" overseer Charles Christopher Wooden in Davidson County Circuit Court, alleging negligence, liability, emotional distress and fraud.

Roth claims he paid $15 to compete in Frightmare Manor's "'Eat Something,' 'Drink Something,' and 'Do Something'" challenge, in which he was "forced to eat" two live bluegills.

Frightmare Manor, a "haunted attraction," was operating in Talbot, Tenn. in October 2013 when Roth signed up for the challenge.

However: "Frightmare failed to remove any of the spines from the bluegill fish," the complaint states. "In his attempt to eat the two fish within the time constraint, Mr. Roth began choking as the first fish became lodged in his throat."

The defendants did not have any emergency medical staff on hand and their employees did not seek emergency medical assistance while Roth was choking, according to the complaint.

Other patrons came to Roth's aid and called 911.

"The defendants willfully and recklessly failed to take necessary safety measures before Mr. Roth and other participants entered into the challenge," the complaint states.

Roth also claims the defendants were negligent in requiring participants "to eat something that was inherently dangerous to consume," such as live fish "with all spines attached."

Roth was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he received emergency medical treatment before being transferred to a new hospital, where he spent four days "including two nights in the intensive care unit," according to the complaint.

If a contestant won the challenge, their admission fee was refunded.

"Participants were not informed of the time constraint" aspect of the challenge until it had begun, according to the complaint.

The haunted house gives "no refunds ... for any reason," and says so on its website, the complaint states.

Roth seeks $150,000 in compensatory damages and $400,000 in punitive damages. He is represented by Cameron D. Bell of Bell, Young & Moore in Knoxville.

It is common for fish to extend their spines as a defensive measure, to try to keep from being swallowed. Bluegill, also called sunfish, are popular prey for bait fishermen.

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