Erin Andrews won’t get most of that $55 million jury award
NEW YORK — Erin Andrews won big in her nude video court case, but she won’t collect anything close to the $55 million that the jury awarded her.
There are several different ways that jury award is likely to be reduced before it gets to her.
Her stalker likely won’t pay. The jury found that 51% of the liability rested with Andrews’ stalker Michael Barrett, who filmed her through the peephole of her Nashville Marriott hotel room back in 2008.
But Barrett, who served 2-1/2 years in jail for making the video, probably doesn’t have the $28 million he owes Andrews, or anything close to it.
He probably doesn’t have enough assets to make it worthwhile for Andrews to seek money from him, according to CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.
“She could try to attach 10% to 20% of his future earnings,” Callan said. “Maybe she’ll want to do that. But in a case like this you might want to get as far away from the guy as you possibly can.”
The hotel probably won’t pay in full. The jury found the hotel’s management company, Windsor Capital Group, and its owner, West End Hotel Partners, responsible for $27 million of the verdict. But chances are good that they’ll pay much less than that.
“It’s an extraordinarily high verdict – one of the highest ever in that state,” said Callan. “Juries love to send messages, but appellate courts love to contradict the message.”
The trial judge or the court of appeals in Tennessee could reduce the amount of the verdict, and maybe even send it back for a new trial.
Callan said that’s why, in 90% of cases like this, lawyers for both sides are likely to negotiate a settlement after the verdict is announced, but before the appellate court rules.
“It’s very likely to be a substantial, multi-million dollar settlement, but it’s very unlikely to be anywhere near $27 million,” he said.
One factor is that Andrews isn’t going after Marriott International, the multi-billion dollar hotel chain, only the two companies associated with the specific Nashville hotel. And those companies don’t have have anywhere near the deep pockets of Marriott.
She’ll have to pay the lawyers. It is virtually certain that Andrews’ lawyers took the case on contingency, which means they’ll be paid a percentage of the settlement.
In Tennessee, that fee typically comes to one third of the final amount that Andrews collects, after various expenses such as expert witnesses and the like are deducted.
At least she won’t have to pay taxes: The good news for Andrews is that personal injury court verdicts are typically tax free.
Even in cases like this where Andrews’ award is to compensate her for emotional pain and suffering rather for any than economic loss, “the theory is you’re just being made whole for your injury,” said Callan.