Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews won an important victory Monday, when a jury awarded her $55 million in a civil suit, which she filed after her stalker secretly filmed her nude in a Nashville hotel in 2008. But that doesn’t mean Andrews will actually get $55 million, or anything close to it.
One key reason Andrews won’t see much of the judgment is that her stalker, 51-year-old Michael David Barrett, who served 2 1/2 years in prison on interstate stalking charges, is likely “judgment-proof,” meaning broke. CNN Money points out that while he owes half the judgment, $28 million, he probably doesn’t have it. Barrett was once an insurance executive before transitioning more or less full-time into being a tremendous creep; prosecutors said in 2010 that he may have filmed at least 16 other women.
The other half of the judgment is to be paid by Windsor Capital Group, the hotel management company, and the hotel’s actual owner owner, West End Hotel Partners. But they, too, likely won’t pay the full $27 million; CNN points out that defendants in cases with judgments this large tend to be appealed. Andrews’ legal team will probably work out a settlement with them to avoid gambling with an appeal and potentially having the ruling reversed or the amount substantially lowered.
There’s also the matter of lawyer’s fees; none other than TMZ has a plausible breakdown of how that might work out:
In lawsuits where a case actually goes to trial, lawyers typically get around 40% of the recoverable judgment. So, if Erin settles with Marriott for $20 million, the lawyers would get $8 million, leaving her with $12 million. And Erin’s responsible for costs in preparing the case, which we’re told could approach $1 million, leaving her with $11 million.
Now the bad news. In cases where someone wins an award for emotional distress without any physical injuries, the award is taxable. So the $11 million becomes more like $6 million.
Despite the judgment being eaten away, though, the case is still vindication for Andrews, and a warning to hotel chains everywhere to take guest privacy and safety seriously. Andrews testified that someone at the hotel gave her room number to Barrett and honored, without question, his odd request to be placed next to her, something that was noted in the hotel’s reservation records. Barrett was able to alter the hotel room peephole in order to film Andrews.
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Andrews leaving the courtroom with her attorney Scott Carr, March 7, 2016. Image via AP.