US star gets $76m in damages over nude video

Ms Andrews says she was deeply traumatised by the incident and suffered depression and crying spells.
Ms Andrews says she was deeply traumatised by the incident and suffered depression and crying spells.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NASHVILLE (Tennessee) • An American television sports presenter has been awarded US$55 million (S$76 million) in damages after a sneak video of her in the nude went viral on the Internet and was seen by millions.

Ms Erin Andrews, 37, sued the Nashville Marriott Hotel at Vanderbilt University and a peeping Tom who took the 2008 video of her from an adjoining room and posted it on the Internet in 2009.

Ms Andrews, a Fox sportscaster who used to work for ESPN, had sought US$75 million in damages.

The video was taken by Michael David Barrett, 54, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to stalking Ms Andrews and making the video. He was sentenced to 21/2 years in jail.

Barrett had asked the hotel to put him in a room next to Ms Andrews' after an employee confirmed to him that she was staying there on a certain date. He rigged a peephole to shoot the video while she was changing. Lawyers for the hotel argued the responsibility was solely Barrett's and there was no way the hotel could have foreseen what he did.

Ms Andrews testified for two days during the trial, saying that since the clip was seen by millions, she experienced serious mental injury, including depression and crying spells.

The network star, who also co-hosts America's Dancing With The Stars, testified that she had been left traumatised and now checks out hotel rooms she stays in to avoid becoming a victim again.

Her lawyers argued that the hotel was negligent and it should not have told Barrett which room she was staying in. It should also have prevented him from booking a room next to hers.

"I've been honoured by all the support from victims around the world. Their outreach has helped me to be able to stand up and hold accountable those whose job it is to protect everyone's safety, security and privacy," said Ms Andrews on Twitter.

"We're disappointed with the outcome," said defence attorney Marc Dedman, adding that he would consult his clients - the hotel owners and its former operators - on whether to appeal. The jury found the hotel is liable for 49 per cent of the damages. Barrett is liable for the rest.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'US star gets $76m in damages over nude video'. Print Edition | Subscribe