The Richmond Register

November 11, 2012

The case of the nude hotel guest

You be the judge

By Jack Strauss
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Len was a bellhop and while his job kept him hopping, it didn’t compare with the pressure that was put on him, one afternoon, by a hotel guest. Sent to determine which rooms were empty, he entered Clara’s room – thinking that she had checked out – and found her standing stark naked in the middle of the room.

Completely paralyzed by Clara’s shrill shriek, Len didn’t move a muscle as the shapely girl draped herself in a blanket. And, for 20 minutes thereafter, Clara – a sophisticated world traveler – grilled the stupefied bellhop like a tomato to determine his motive in entering her room. Then, she released him and sued the hotel for the emotional disturbance she had suffered.

“In all my adventures around the world,” she testified in court, “being confronted by Len while I was nude was the most embarrassing experience I ever had.”

In due course, a sympathetic jury gave Clara a big cash reward, and the hotel appealed. It argued that since there was no evidence that Clara was particularly modest, the award should have been modest – very modest.

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you set aside Clara’s big award in favor of one much smaller?

This is how the judge ruled: YES! The judge held that being a sophisticated young woman, having been inadvertently seen in the nude should not have, nor did it seem to, so emotionally disturb Clara as to warrant so large an award. She screamed only once, noted the judge in support of her sophistication, and then spent 20 minutes questioning the bellhop in her room before ordering him out.

(Based upon a 1960 United States District Court Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others.

It appears here with his permission.