Sports Presenter, Erin Andrews has been awarded $55m by a jury in New York for damages as a result of her nude video secretly recorded by a stalker while in a hotel room and posted online.
Andrews had sued two companies, West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital. These two companies operate the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. Michael David Barrett, who in 2009 pleaded guilty to interstate stalking of Andrews and sentenced to 27 months in prison, was also a co-defendant in the case.
Barrett had stalked and videotaped Andrews on several occasions and in different cities. He duped a Nashville Marriott employee into confirming Andrews’s reservation and his request to book a room next to her was granted. Barrett then used a peephole to surreptitiously videotape her while she changed. He later placed his videos online and millions watched.
Andrews, a Fox Sports reporter who also co-hosts Dancing With The Stars, had told the trial that she was left humiliated and depressed when the video was uploaded online, where it continues to be viewed by millions of people since 2008 when the incident took place.
Lawyers for the hotels had insisted that Barrett was entirely to blame for what happened to Andrews as he was a determined criminal, and also suggested that the progress in her career since the incident was proof that her distress was not severe or permanent.
But during a tearful testimony, Andrews said she is taunted about the video “every day of my life”.
She added: “Either I get a tweet or somebody makes a comment in the paper or somebody sends me a still video to my Twitter or someone screams it at me in the stands and I’m right back to this.
“I feel so embarrassed and I am so ashamed.”
How easy can she get the money?
The question on the minds of many now is how Andrews is going to be able to collect the damages considering the fact that Barret will be responsible for 51% of the payments (about $28m).
West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital are likely of far more considerable means but as private companies their financial statements are not publicly available. Whether they have the capacity to pay a judgment of approximately $27 million is uncertain. It is also not clear to what extent insurance may pay for some of these damages. The two companies might even be forced to declare bankruptcy which will further delay any payments to her.
It is really pathetic that despite all her sufferings and expenses in trying to clear up the video from the internet when it was first posted, she still has to go through a long and grinding process to get any compensation.