Negligence Law and Hotels in Light of Erin Andrews Verdict

Negligence Law and Hotels in Light of Erin Andrews Verdict

The jury in the negligence lawsuit filed by ESPN sports reporter Erin Andrews against Marriott Hotels has found that the hotel giant was partially responsible for injuries suffered by Andrews after another guest videotaped her through the hotel room’s peep hole and posted the video online. The jury awarded Andrews $55 million in damages, and found the hotel chain 49% liable for the injuries caused.

Andrews was staying at the Nashville Marriott in 2008 when Michael Barrett, another guest at the hotel, booked the room next to her, unscrewed the peep hole in the door between the rooms, and filmed her after she came out of the shower. He posted the video online and it went viral, with more than 16 million views to date. Barrett was criminally prosecuted and spent time in jail after being convicted. Andrews also filed a civil action against Barrett and the Nashville Marriott, alleging that the hotel had failed to take reasonable steps to protect her safety and privacy. In her complaint, she stated that the hotel had negligently disclosed to Barrett that Andrews was staying at the hotel, allowed him to have the room next to hers without notifying her first, and failed to maintain the peep holes to prevent tampering.

Under Tennessee law (the same as in Pennsylvania), a hotel has a duty to take reasonable measures to protect guests from harm and from invasion of privacy. As part of this obligation, a hotel must notify guests of any perceived harm or threats to their safety or privacy. Andrews’ attorneys argued that, once Barrett inquired about Andrews and asked for a room next to hers, hotel employees should have notified her, as it was an unusual request.

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