Erin Andrews is a victim who found justice in our legal system. But judging by the way people reacted online following a $55 million verdict in a lawsuit she filed against the owner of the Marriott at Vanderbilt University and the man who stalked her across two different cities, you’d think the sportscaster had just gotten away with murder.
Back in 2008, Andrews was secretly videotaped through a compromised hotel door peephole by a pervert who was eventually convicted of interstate stalking. The perpetrator, Michael David Barrett, served 30 months in prison. But his ability to easily find out Andrews’ room number and then book his stay next door is the reason the TV host named both the hotel and Barrett in her lawsuit.
A jury in Nashville, where one of the incidents took place, sided with Andrews. When the defense is as incompetent as the hotel’s legal team was, it is not difficult to understand why she won. Attorneys for the Marriott’s owners, West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital Group, actually had the gall to argue in court that the leaked video of Andrews’ naked body helped her career.
The idea that Andrews, who since the tape’s release moved from ESPN to Fox Sports and also picked up “Dancing With The Stars” co-hosting duties, was helped by this criminal act is irrelevant. The idea that a person could prey on someone in a hotel and the company’s counsel would actually try and defend the act is reprehensible. Thankfully jurors in Nashville sent a clear message to the hospitality industry: the privacy and safety of guests is and should always be a priority.
That message, along with hopefully Andrews’ ability to heal from the pain and trauma of this incident, is the true value of this verdict. However some don’t see it that way, in part because they probably can’t see past Andrews: she’s attractive, successful and scandal-free despite the heinous crime committed against her. It doesn’t matter if her rights are violated and her privacy shredded to pieces because she’s famous and the best at her job, right?
I guess that’s why it made sense for one columnist in the New York Daily News to call the verdict, “a mockery of real pain and genuine suffering.” The author, Gersh Kuntzman, cited the police brutality cases in the deaths of Eric Garner and Freddie Gray. Their families received $5.9 and $6.4 million respectively.
Kuntzman doesn’t believe it is fair for Andrews to receive that kind of money from a jury when the verdicts for more serious cases are far less. Had Andrews won a $55 million settlement because she was mistreated by police, maybe he would have a point. Perhaps someone gave him some bad information, but hopefully by now he has been informed that these cases have nothing to do with each other.
(Ed note: TMZ reported Andrews will probably take home about $6 million after the appeal is settled and the legal beagles receive their cut; not that her take-home in any way is relevant to either the verdict or cases of police brutality.)
Kuntzman, Fox News legal analyst Arthur Aidala and countless Twitter experts who can’t even throw a name behind their opinion clearly have never experienced such a violation of privacy. The women in their lives must be immune to it as well, because I’d like to think that had this happened to someone they cared about, it wouldn’t be so quickly dismissed as “a mockery.”
Especially considering the verdict came down on the eve of “International Women’s Day.”