There’s been controversy over the huge cash sum awarded to Erin Andrews – even the New York Daily News has weighed in, saying it’s too much. “Such a huge jury verdict makes a mockery of real pain and genuine suffering,” wrote Gersh Kuntzman. Other pundits say it’s not nearly enough.
In case you don’t know the details, let’s get you up to speed:
A jury awarded Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million in her lawsuit against a Nashville Marriott and her already-convicted stalker after she was secretly videotaped naked in the shower and getting ready to go out, in her private hotel room in 2008.
Andrews sued for $75 million, accusing the companies that manage the Marriott of negligence leading to emotional distress and invasion of privacy. She also sued Michael David Barrett, the obsessed man who requested the room next to hers. He modified the peephole, filmed her, and posted the video online (which has been viewed some 17 million times. That number continues to climb).
After her trial, she was awarded $55 million by the jury. The hotel companies are paying 49% of that – about $27 million – and Barrett, the perpetrator, is stuck with the other 51% of the bill.
So, does this huge cash award have anything to do with the fact Erin Andrews is a white, professional female, and a celebrity? Let’s look at a few things, here:
On one hand…
o Brothers Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman were awarded roughly $2 million reparation from the state of Ohio after having been convicted and thrown in prison since 1975 for a crime they did NOT commit.
o Freddie Gray, whose death in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department was ruled negligent, warrants only $6.4 million. While most of the police officers in question have yet to go to trial, a $6.4 million settlement for the family of Freddie Gray was formally issued by the City late last year.
…But these were against civil governments that don’t have deep pockets like the Marriott.
On the other…
o Can anyone actually put price on peace of mind? Erin Andrews will always wonder if she’s being filmed, no matter what she does or where she goes. The video lives for eternity on the internet, and can be seen by her future husband, kids and the globe. She says she is permanently damaged by this.
o The man who actually committed the offense has been ordered to pay $28 million, but let’s face it: he will never, ever pay. The Marriott can pay, and maybe this will get them to reexamine their lax security policies. But she's definitely not gonna be able to collect on all of this.
…According to Forbes, the U.S. Government is the real winner here, as Andrews is going to slammed with major taxes. Also, the Marriott’s parent companies will try to settle for less, she’ll have to pay her attorneys, and expenses… so it’s been estimated she’ll get about $6 million when all is said and done.
It’s important to keep in mind that the jury was not tasked with comparing Andrews’ suffering to murders and travesties. They were asked to look at her case, in its merits alone. As Julie DiCaro of CBS Chicago said, “If the jury were to assign a dollar value to each view — say about $3 in damages per view — we arrive at the $55 million figure fairly quickly.”
The family of Walter Scott who was shot dead by police got a $6.5 million settlement with N. Charleston, South Carolina. Scott was unarmed black man fatally shot by a white police officer who was captured on cellphone video firing at the man’s back as he ran away. His life, apparently, was worth nowhere near $55 million.
We could go on and on. But now it’s your turn. Weigh in!
This post was originally published on Switch Media