When Fox Sports reporter and co-host of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars Erin Andrews was covertly videotaped in the nude during a stay at the Nashville Marriott, she was undoubtedly victimized. Her stalker, insurance company executive Michael David Barrett, has been held responsible for his actions in a civil ruling requiring him to pay 51% of a $55 million award to Andrews.
The other 49% will be paid for by two hotel companies who jointly manage the venue where the crime occurred. What was their role in the violation of Andrews’ privacy? Did they knowingly or through negligence enable the intrusion? Nope. In fact, the hotel was victimized by Barrett right along with Andrews. From The Hollywood Reporter:
In his videotaped deposition, [Barrett] said that he alone was to blame. He said he correctly guessed that she would be at the hotel — it was the closest one to the Vanderbilt football game Andrews was covering — by calling and pretending to be in a group with Andrews and asking for confirmation of the reservations.
Barrett said he used an in-house employee phone to learn her room number, and made a request to be in the room next to Andrews
So let’s unpack this. Barrett committed fraud against the Nashville Marriott, pretending to be someone he was not. He then gained unauthorized access to an employee phone to learn which room Andrews was in. At what point in the process was the Marriott to blame? Should their employee phones be contained within locked containers? Should they filter customer calls through some kind of lie-detection algorithm? What reasonable polices do competing hotel chains have in place that could have prevented a determined criminal like Barrett?
None of those questions may have played a role in the jury’s deliberation. The main consideration seems to be, not what objective blame the hotel companies held, but how deep their pockets were.
During closing arguments, one of Andrews’ lawyers said Barrett tried to take all of the blame because he holds a grudge against her over his conviction and doesn’t want her to win any money.
Ah, so it’s about winning money. Silly me. I thought courts were supposed to pursue justice.