Springer & Steinberg, P.C. Wins $300,000 for Nude Pilot who Expected Privacy
Imagine being in a hotel room and expecting privacy, only to find out that the entire Denver airport can see you naked. Now, imagine a police officer knocking at your door and arresting you for indecent exposure and lewd acts. This nightmarish situation might sound farfetched, but it’s exactly what happened to our client. Unfortunately, the damage to his reputation and career cannot be undone. Fortunately, our firm was able to get him $300,000 of compensation for the violation of his civil rights.
On Sept. 19, 2018, after his flight to Cedar Rapids was delayed, a United Airlines pilot was booked into a hotel room at The Westin Denver International Airport. He awoke on the morning of Sept. 20 and opened his curtains to enjoy the sunshine. While he was undressing to get in the shower, he received an important phone call. He took the call while gazing out the window of the hotel, which he assumed to be tinted or mirrored like those of other accommodations. Our client’s expectation was reasonable after staying in 2,000 hotels over the course of his 26 years as a pilot.
Before long, there was a knock at the door. The Denver police announced they were coming in “with or without” our client’s permission. The unsuspecting pilot threw a pair of pants on, opened the door, and was immediately arrested for “indecent exposure and lewd acts.”
Our client spent 2 days in jail and was suspended from his job for 6 months as a result of the charges. The accusations were promptly dismissed in court, but the consequences for him and his family live on.
A Wrongful Arrest
To hold the Denver police accountable, we helped our client file a wrongful arrest lawsuit. During settlement negotiations, the city of Denver admitted to violating our client’s civil rights and wrote him a check for $300,000.
According to our very own Attorney Craig Silverman:
“It’s not a crime to be naked in Denver… especially if you are in the privacy of your own hotel room. [Our client] was engaged in a phone call, he had no idea that anybody was looking at him, and it’s a shame that he got arrested the way he did.”
Silverman went on to explain that the police officers had no probable cause and no warrant to enter our client’s room. They also neglected to read him a Miranda warning, as evidenced by body-cam footage of the arrest. Additionally, the only evidence in the case was a blurry picture suggesting some nudity; there was no proof of lewd acts.
Attorney Silverman emphasizes: “There was nudity in this case but nothing sexual. [Our client] thought he was alone and not in anyone’s view. It’s not a crime to be naked in Denver. It is certainly not a crime to be naked in one’s hotel room.”
The city of Denver has paid for violating our client’s constitutional rights, but the DIA Westin has not. With assistance from Silverman, our client is considering a lawsuit against the hotel. His legal team noted:
“The DIA Westin needs to make changes to warn hotel guests that the interiors of its hotel rooms do not afford privacy but are in fact visible to unseen people far away in the Denver International Airport terminal. [The hotel] should take responsibility for its own behavior on September 20, 2018, and take appropriate steps to make sure that what happened to [our client] never happens to another customer.”
Silverman also added that the hotel should not have allowed officers inside without a warrant.
Our client is considering donating some of his settlement money to the Innocence Project now that he knows what it’s like to be wrongfully accused:
“I have to explain this situation every day without fail,” he says, “I have been tagged by Homeland Security, anytime I get back into the country I am pulled aside and asked if I have been in trouble with the law.”
The consequences of his arrest don’t spare his family, either:
“My family has had to deal with things they had nothing to do with. I have 3 boys who serve in the United States Air Force. They’ve had to listen to the jokes of their superiors about their father doing things in front of windows. My wife was a 30-year flight attendant for United Airlines, and she has to go to work to listen to these same comments.”
While our client is back in the sky and his record has been expunged, the events of his inappropriate arrest and breached privacy continue to affect him in every aspect of his life.
That’s why we had to hold the Denver police accountable, and that’s why we will pursue justice from The DIA Westin. In situations like this, we have to protect our clients’ constitutional rights.
Protect Your Rights with Springer & Steinberg, P.C.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that our firm has your best interests at heart. We have been protecting clients across Colorado for nearly 40 years, and we will not back down from a challenge.
If your rights have been violated in any way, call us at (303) 861-2800 or request a free consultation online.