Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that a jury awarded Erin Andrews $55 million in damages in her lawsuit against her stalker, Michael Barrett, for secretly videotaping her naked without her knowledge or consent at the Marriott Nashville hotel, where she was staying and owned by the Marriott hotel chain.
What does it mean for your business? How could the hotel be responsible? There is no doubt that what happened to Ms. Andrews was nothing short of a nightmare that nobody deserves.
After everything, it was Barrett who managed to slip into Ms. Andrews’ hotel room and alter the peephole to record her for more than four minutes while she was naked. These images were then spread across the internet.
Andrews Ms. Alleged that damages and intense emotional suffering were caused by her, and argued that the hotel bore much responsibility for allowing Bennett to record the video, which has been viewed over 16 million times on the internet. Her attorneys claimed.
Andrews suffered from emotional distress, which some would argue was heartlessly demeaned, an ordeal that has also been downplayed by their approach. The attorneys representing defendant West End Hotel Partners, the owners of the Marriott in question, claimed that Barrett’s criminal actions were Andrews’ responsibility, not theirs.
Let’s take a look at how you can avoid the same fate and liability in this case by examining the basis for it. In today’s wired-in culture, safety personal and privacy are at the forefront of many people’s minds, especially. The attorney argued, “We need to turn ourselves over to protecting them and providing them with safety.” The attorney told the jurors in her closing arguments that the hotel operators and owners failed to keep the famous sportscaster safe when she was a guest away from her home.
Staff in common areas and hallways should be adequately trained to actively monitor, while hotels should make use of cameras and guards. Additionally, hotels must anticipate incidents of voyeurism and invasions of privacy in guest rooms. They should also consider the possibility of an assailant or thief breaking into guest rooms. Ensuring the safety of guests is crucial for hotels, especially in most states.
Is it how that Andrews’ stalker saw her standing outside the door, using a hacksaw to change the peephole and videotaping his upset? In this case, it would have been reasonable for Marriott to actively patrol or monitor the hallways, display the numbers of the guest rooms, and use phones in the house. The question lies at the heart of what constitutes “reasonable” or “common sense” in terms of any business’ exposure. The hotel is required to take common sense precautions to protect its guests and customers.
In the hotel sector, testifying as an expert witness, it is considered a grave mistake to disclose hotel guest details, like the room number, without obtaining consent from the guest. Determining what is considered “reasonable” can largely be determined by examining common practices and accepted industry standards. The jury seemed to find no logical or rational explanation for sharing such information with a complete stranger. Why did the hotel staff provide this information to an unknown individual, referred to as the “average joe,” without any indication of their affiliation or relationship with the guest? This case seems to have boiled down to a simple fact: despite the stalker’s ability to tamper with Andrews’ door without being noticed or confronted.
Ms. Andrews’ attorneys successfully argued that the hotel, which lacked basic security lapses, was responsible for the foreseeable consequences of allowing the perpetrator to make and subsequently exploit the video.
Marriott should have received a message from the seemingly biased jury. It was obvious that they did not fly. Marriott worked hard to portray itself as a victim of Barrett’s actions and should not be held responsible for the “manipulation” of their reservation system.
It is important for every business to have modern and effective procedures and systems in place to protect customers, tenants, and clients from foreseeable danger. This includes regularly updating safeguards and processes, discussing these issues with your attorney, and installing sensible protections such as security guards patrolling outside a complex apartment or using security guards. Additionally, it may be necessary to take necessary and reasonable steps to protect health and safety, regardless of whether it is a burden or not.
The illicit release of an internet sex video led to a recent ruling by a New York jury, ordering rapper 150 Cent to pay $7 million. Following her demise, Hustler released explicit photographs of model Nancy Benoit, resulting in an initial $20 million award by a Georgia jury, which was subsequently reduced to $250,000 for her estate. Juries have gained a reputation for delivering swift and severe judgments in similar instances where nude photos are published, which proved detrimental to Marriott in this particular case.
Ensuring the privacy and safety of their guests, especially during these days, is a lesson that hotels cannot underestimate, as emphasized by the $55 million verdict for Ms. Andrews.