Many of our readers might remember the first Law and the Multiverse Holiday Special, which analyzed the legal issues surrounding Santa Claus. This time around we’re going to take a brief look at the Easter Bunny (who, along with Santa Claus, is technically a DC comics character).
I. Intelligent Bunnies
As with Santa Claus, a big issue for the Easter Bunny is trespass. Entering other people’s property and leaving eggs definitely fits the bill for the tort of trespass to land. Now, with Santa Claus there was an easy answer to this problem: the home owners clearly invited Santa Claus to enter their property, as demonstrated by the stockings, milk and cookies, and so forth. But there’s no consistent signal that the Easter Bunny is allowed to enter a person’s property. This is a problem for any version of the Easter Bunny that might be considered a legal person (e.g. the versions that are intelligent and can talk).
Another problem for these Bunnies: where do they get the eggs? Do they own and raise the chickens themselves? If so, do they follow all the regulations for chicken farming? If they buy the eggs, where do they get the money? There are a lot of holes in the Easter Bunny’s story, to say the least. At least Santa has a ‘volunteer’ labor force to make the toys.
Of course, unlike Santa, nobody seems to know where the Easter Bunny actually lives these days. Service of process and jurisdiction might be significant problems for any would-be plaintiffs.
II. Non-Intelligent Bunnies
Some versions of the Easter Bunny are more-or-less actual rabbits, and animals can’t be liable for torts. However, the animal’s owner can be. If an animal’s owner lets an animal loose (either intentionally or negligently), and the animal enters another person’s property, that can be a trespass. But the Easter Bunny doesn’t seem to have an owner (with the possible exception of Cadbury), so this suggests those Bunnies are actually wild animals.
This is unfortunate for the Bunny. On the one hand it means that neither the Bunny nor any person is liable for its trespasses, but on the other hand it means that in many places the Bunny could be legally captured or even shot. This concern seems pretty theoretical, however, since the Bunny is apparently very stealthy.
As a practical matter, both intelligent and non-intelligent Easter Bunnies seem to be safe from both lawsuits and rabbit traps. We would still advise intelligent Easter Bunnies to adopt a standard signal that they are allowed on a person’s property, though. Better safe than sorry!