Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can you sue for in a personal injury case?”
Neighbors of a North Charlotte man who has a penchant for standing naked at his front door say they want to change North Carolina’s indecent exposure law “to protect their children.”
Other neighbors of the man—who lives in Charlotte’s Cardinal Glen neighborhood—say he has been appearing at the front door of his home, in the nude, several times a week for the past ten years.
On Friday, neighbors phoned the police to report the incident, but a spokeswoman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said that since the man was on his own property, the matter was “not a criminal incident.”
N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 14-190.9 makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person to “willfully expose the private parts of his or her person in any public place and in the presence of any other person or persons[.]”
Although the nude man of Cardinal Glen appears to be willfully exposing his private parts (North Carolina, incidentally, has some pretty hilarious legal precedent defining what the term “private parts” means), since he is not “in any public place,” he is not violating the law.
So the neighbors want to change the law, to what? To provide that a person may not willfully expose one’s private parts in any private place—in one’s own home? Surely not.
The proposed law, I’m guessing, would provide that persons shall not willfully expose their private parts to the public. In other words, if the public can see one’s private parts, even if one is exposing the same on one’s own property, one is in violation of the law.
This too would be fraught with problems. What if a person could only be sighted, in the nude on one’s own property, using a pair of binoculars? The person using the binoculars is in public, and sees a person’s “willfully exposed” private parts. Has the nude committed a misdemeanor?
An erstwhile concealed nude might also be sighted by revelers on a hot-air balloon trip, on a neighborhood helicopter tour, or on a plane. Assuming one is willfully exposing one’s private parts (in private, one believes, but is mistaken), is one in violation of the proposed law?
So often, it seems, we propose a law to fix a problem that involves using the machinery of the state to solve the problem for us, through law enforcement and the criminal courts.
Neighbors of the nude of Cardinal Glen already have and have had—springing from the very roots of our Common Law legal system—a potential civil cause of action and the remedies that are available in such actions.
The action is called nuisance. A private nuisance is defined as “the unlawful and unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of the property of another.”
Property owners are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their property. If property owners in the Cardinal Glen neighborhood can demonstrate that the quiet enjoyment of their properties have been significantly diminished by the actions of the nude, then they may be entitled to damages and injunctive relief in a court of law.
Injunctive relief usually involves a court entering an order directing a person to stop doing something, i.e. to stop standing in the nude in one’s doorway!
If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
“Binoculars 25×100” by Ante Perkovic – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Binoculars_25x100.jpg#/media/File:Binoculars_25x100.jpg
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