Erin Andrews on Fox.

While the $55 million Fox broadcaster Erin Andrews was awarded Monday in her civil lawsuit against stalker Michael David Barrett and the ownership group of the Nashville Marriott is a significant amount of money, it seems likely that she won’t receive all of that. As Michael McCann notes at Sports Illustrated, Andrews’ award is substantially larger than what most plaintiffs in civil lawsuits receive, so it could be reduced if the defendants successfully appeal. Another issue may be that 51 per cent of the damages ($28 million) are assigned to Barrett, who doesn’t seem to have the resources to meet that. The hotel owners could possibly be found responsible for his portion as well under the default rule that defendants are “joint and severally liable,” but that rule has been limited by Tennessee courts in recent years. The timing of Andrews’ lawsuit could also come into play there, as McCann writes:

Tennessee law and the Tennessee Supreme Court have limited joint and several liability in recent years. It is generally not available unless the co-defendants acted in concert. Barrett, who engineered a plot to deceive the hotel into staying next to Andrews, does not appear to have acted in concert with the hotel companies. Andrews, however, filed her lawsuit before some of the changes to Tennessee joint and several liability law. This suggests there is a possibility that the two hotel companies may be obligated to pay all or some of Barrett’s $28 million. Watch for this issue to be a source of future court proceedings.

Expect the hotel companies to appeal the jury award and hope that a judge reduces it on the grounds that the jury acted with passion rather than thought. An appeal could also involve the Tennessee Civil Justice Act, which is the state’s “tort reform” law. Although the Act currently has an unsettled legal status, it limits damages to $750,000 in certain cases. Andrews, however, filed the original version of her lawsuit before the Act went into effect, which indicates the Act should not limit the jury’s award for Andrews. Regardless of how the appeals process plays out, it could take many months, if not years, to do so. During this time, it is possible that Andrews and the hotel companies could negotiate an out-of-court settlement to end the litigation. In such a settlement, Andrews would agree to take less money in exchange for the guarantee of payment.

TMZ also has a piece on the lawsuit, with their legal sources suggesting the local Marriott ownership group will likely settle for around $20 million. If that happened, the lawyers would likely get around $8 million, with another million spent on costs preparing the case, leaving Andrews with an award of $11 million that could be only $6 million after taxes. None of that may play out exactly as they write (the case may not settle or may not settle that cheaply, the legal fees may not come in at those numbers, etc.), but that’s a good indication of how this money won’t all go to Andrews. We’ll see if there’s an appeal or a settlement in the days ahead.

[Sports Illustrated]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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