Fox Sportscaster Wins $55 Million in Hotel Peephole Lawsuit
In March 2016, a jury decided to award Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million for winning her lawsuit against the Nashville Marriott Hotel and a stalker who secretly videotaped her naked various times in 2008 and released the images online in 2009.
Lawsuit Due to Negligence
Ms. Andrews initially sued Windsor Capital Group and West End Hotel Partners, the companies that manage the Nashville Marriott, for $75 million. Based on court documents, Andrews accused the companies of negligence, which led to her invasion of privacy and emotional distress. She also sued Michael David Barrett, the Illinois man who stalked and filmed her.
Mr. Barrett confessed that he used a hacksaw to modify the peephole of Ms. Andrew’s hotel room in Nashville Marriott. Through the peephole, Mr. Barrett filmed the sportscaster during her private moments.
During the trial, Ms. Andrews contended that the hotel management should have informed her that a man had inquired about her stay at the hotel. Mr. Barrett confessed that he, indeed, asked the hotel about Ms. Andrews’ stay and requested to get the room next to the sportscaster’s room.
“This could’ve been stopped. The Nashville Marriott could have called me and said, ’We’re putting this man that requested to be next to you, is this okay?’ And I would have called the police and we would have gotten him,” Ms. Andrew testified in court.
Defense lawyer Marc Dedman stated that there was no clear evidence that the hotel deliberately placed Mr. Barrett next to Ms. Andrews’ room. Dedman explained that Mr. Barrett was an insurance executive who had an extensive knowledge about the hospitality system. Hence, he was able to use one of the hotel’s in-house phones to figure out where Ms. Andrew was staying. He then requested a room next to the sportscaster.
Contrary to the defense, a former Marriott personnel testified that no hotel policy prohibits the employees from disclosing guests’ room numbers.
Mr. Barrett pleaded guilty to the charges. The jurors held him responsible for 51% of the $55 million, while the hotel companies had to shoulder the remaining $27 million.
In her testimony after the verdict, Ms. Andrews stated that she had been constantly feeling angry and ashamed of what happened, especially about her nude images that became available on the Internet. But she thanked the court, the jury, and the people of Nashville who supported her from the moment the controversy blew in national media.