Legal battle for the Waverly Hills Sanatorium underway

It's a fight for one of the most haunted places in the country.
Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 10:29 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The fight for Waverly Hills. It sounds like a historical battle, but it’s happening now.

But this battle field is in the court room.

October is the time of the year when thrill-chasers and horror-lovers can get their fill. One of the most popular spots to get scared is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

This time those in charge are the one being spooked.

Charlie and Tina Mattingly own all of the property and the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. But they’re only allowed on one side of the fence. That’s because he’s currently locked in a legal battle.

The Mattinglys are leasing the building to the Waverly Hills Historical Society.

The historical society runs all of the attractions and say they’re in charge of preserving and restoring the buildings.

A mission they say the Mattinglys are keeping them from doing.

“There’s over 200 claims in the lawsuit,” said Ernie Pack, the founder of the “Save Waverly Hills” group.

Some of the claims in the lawsuit say the Mattinglys are selling the historical society’s assets and equipment, making changes to the property, and retaining money for trees they unlawfully cut on the property.

The historical society is trying to recover its alleged losses from the Mattinglys.

“They’re all petty, unsubstantiated, frivolous, claims that they have not yet been able to produce discovery for,” Pack said.

“Save Waverly Hills” is a group created to help support and fundraise for the Mattinglys.

“Him and Tina have put their heart and soul into it. And to hear that they were kicked out of their home, which they lived right over there, and kicked off their own property that they have saved, then they were locked in this legal battle that they couldn’t afford to fight,” Pack said.

The legal battle has been going on since early 2021, but things may yet end outside the courtroom.

“There’s a new board there that’s in place now that is actually shown a willingness to negotiate with Charlie and we see light at the end of the tunnel where Charlie and Tina can back home and get back in control of their building,” Pack said.

It’s the ending the Mattinglys are hoping for.

“We’re hoping that all these barriers can come down real soon and we can work together again real soon. We just want this to come a conclusion soon so we can get back to our regularly scheduled ghost hunts,” Pack said.

But until then, the legal fees keep coming.

“So we gotta keep doing what we’re doing,” Pack said.

The Waverly Hills Historical Society sent a response to WAVE News on the ongoing lawsuit and claims by the Save Waverly Hills group:

“The Waverly Hills Historical Society’s mission has remained unchanged since 2003 – to preserve, restore and educate the public about Waverly Hills Sanatorium and its history.

To clarify what was said in a WAVE report, the Waverly Hills Historical Society never initiated any eviction proceedings against the Mattinglys or kicked anyone out of their home. The Mattinglys have always owned a private residence away from Waverly Hills property. The Mattinglys were only permitted to stay in an apartment on the property as needed as a fringe benefit to Tina Mattingly’s Executive Director position. She also received additional fringe benefits, including a company car. When she was terminated, all fringe benefits with the Executive Director position terminated. The Waverly Hills Historical Society gave the Mattinglys more than 90 days to move out of the property and back into their personal residence, where they currently reside.

As far as the lawsuit, this continues to play out in court, and the Waverly Hills Historical Society is hopeful for a conclusion soon. As the non-profit steward for the property, the Waverly Hills Historical Society continues to offer educational and paranormal events (such as tours), and this legal issue has not forced the Historical Society to cancel tours or events. Our events currently continue as normal, including our upcoming Haunted House.”

While the legal battle continues, Waverly Hills is still holding its usual tours.