Tennessee Jury Awards Stalking Victim $55 Million
Negligence and personal injury can take many forms. Although we generally associate personal injury claims with matters like car accidents or medical malpractice, there is a wide variety of negligent acts that may entitle a victim to compensation. For example, a Nashville jury recently made international headlines when it awarded an eight-figure sum to the victim of a “peeping tom” stalker who published a nude video of her on the internet.
Jury Holds Hotel Liable for Granting Stalker Access
Many of you have probably heard about this case. Erin Andrews, a well-known sports television host, was staying in a Nashville hotel while on assignment for her employer. A stalker managed to rent the room adjacent to Andrews, where he proceeded to tamper with the peephole on the room’s door and make a secret recording of Andrews as she was undressing. The stalker then posted the video on the internet.
The stalker was eventually caught, convicted of “interstate stalking,” and sentenced to approximately two years in prison. Andrews then filed a civil lawsuit in Tennessee state court, naming not only the stalker but the owners of the hotel where she stayed.
Specifically, Andrews accused the hotel of negligence for violating its “duty to exercise reasonable and ordinary care and caution” in managing the hotel. At trial, Andrews presented evidence that the hotel disclosed the location of Andrews’ room to the stalker and allowed him to rent the adjoining room without informing her. As a result of this negligence—and the subsequent public humiliation Andrews faced after the stalker’s video became public—Andrews said she suffered “severe and permanent emotional distress.”
The jury agreed and ruled in favor of Andrews against all three defendants—the stalker and the two companies that owned and managed the hotel. The jury assigned 51 percent of the liability for Andrews’ injuries to the stalker himself, with the remaining 49 percent to the hotel owners. Although Andrews sought a total of $75 million in damages, the jury decided to award $55 million, apportioned among the defendants according to their liability.
As a practical matter, Andrews is unlikely to collect the 51 percent of the award (more than $26 million) from the stalker. For their part, the hotel owners are likely to appeal the nearly $27 million in damages they are now on the hook for.
Get Help from a Tennessee Personal Injury Attorney
Indeed, while large jury awards tend to garner headlines, the reality of personal injury litigation is more complicated than you may think. A victim does not usually walk out of court with a big check once the jury has ruled. The post-trial and appeals process can take several years to run its course, especially when the defendant is a large corporation with the resources to fight on.
That is why it is essential to work with an experienced Knoxville personal injury lawyer. Even a seemingly routine negligence case may lead to months or years of complex litigation. A qualified attorney is therefore indispensable. Contact the offices of Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, if you live in the Clinton or Knoxville areas and need to speak with someone about your case right away.