Opening statements were heard today in a civil suit pitting TV reporter and host Erin Andrews against a Nashville hotel and others that she says allowed a serial stalker to not only reserve a room next to hers, but also to record her via her door's peephole as she undressed privately.
Andrews, a Fox Sports reporter and host for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," is asking for $75 million in damages, alleging negligence and invasion of privacy among others.
"This is so humiliating to her -- and it continues," her lawyer Randall Kinnard said in court today.
The Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University; hotel owner West End Hotel Partners; management company Windsor Capital Group; and Michael David Barrett are named defendants.
Barrett, a former Illinois insurance executive, pleaded guilty in December 2009 to interstate stalking after admitting he secretly taped and then tried to sell nude videos of Andrews shot while she was in hotel rooms across the US, including Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2010, Barrett was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
According to the lawsuit, Andrews' lawyers said that Barrett had made calls to the hotel in 2008 to determine whether Andrews would be staying at the Nashville Marriott. At the time, she was covering a football game for ESPN and staying at the hotel.
Lawyers said that around Sept. 2, 2008, Barrett not only reserved a room at the hotel but also later asked that his room be next to Andrews’. That specific request was not honored.
According to Marc Dedman, representing Nashville Marriott, however, Barrett learned her room number from a hospitality line, found that the room next to hers was vacant and then requested that room.
Andrews' lawyers said in their complaint that the defendants "granted the request … without [Andrews'] consent or knowledge. ... [Barrett] removed and altered the peephole of [her] hotel room door and recorded video [of her] changing and/or getting dressed without her knowledge or consent."
Barrett posted videos of Andrews nude online in July 2009. According to the suit, Andrews learned of the videos that month.
"Andrews has suffered and continues to suffer from, including but not limited to, severe and permanent emotional distress, embarrassment, past and future medical expenses, and has incurred expenses and damages relating to the unauthorized use of her image and likeness," the complaint said.
In court today, Dedman said the blame should be placed on Barrett, not Nashville Marriott.
"These people did not just take a call from some stranger wanting to be in a room next to Erin Andrews and put him there," Dedman said in court. "He deceived. He connived. He stalked. That's what Mr. Barrett did."