SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A trial team with the Santa Monica law firm, Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP won the prestigious 2016 "Consumer Attorney of the Year" award on Saturday at the annual gala of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) in San Francisco. Each year the statewide organization honors one outstanding trial result that was highly significant for consumers.
Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP represented FOX Sports reporter and TV personality Erin Andrews in her case against a Nashville hotel for its misconduct, which led to a stalker secretly shooting video of Andrews in her hotel room in the nude.
Attorneys Bruce Broillet, Scott Carr, Tobin Lanzetta, Molly McKibben and Nashville co-counsel Randy Kinnard obtained a $55 million jury verdict in the personal injury lawsuit involving consumer privacy protections at hotels. The high profile trial helped shed light on the issue of online trafficking of non-consensual pornography as well as the need for hotels to protect the safety, security and privacy of their guests.
Andrews was staying at the Marriott at Vanderbilt University in 2008 while on assignment at the time as an ESPN sportscaster. At trial, Andrews' attorneys revealed that the Marriott hotel staff told the perpetrator, Michael Barrett, that Ms. Andrews was staying at the hotel and granted his request to stay in an adjacent room.
Testimony revealed that the hotel staff gave Barrett a reservation in the room next to Andrews because Barrett was a Marriott Rewards customer, and hotel employees admitted at trial they did it because they wanted to keep the customer happy and coming back. Andrews testified that, had the hotel told her what was going on, she would have called the police and left the hotel.
Barrett testified that he altered the hotel room's peephole and secretly filmed Andrews naked after she got out of the shower. Months later he attempted to sell the video footage for profit but was unsuccessful. Instead Barrett uploaded the images to the Internet. After the video went public, Andrews suffered intense feelings of embarrassment, shame and humiliation. An expert witness at trial testified that conservatively, at least 16.7 million people had viewed the video online since 2009.
The Nashville jury handed Andrews a unanimous $55 million verdict, finding Barrett 51 percent at fault and the hotel 49 percent at fault. The hotel and Andrews later reached a confidential settlement in April 2016. This verdict and settlement has held the hotel accountable for failing to provide adequate protections, privacy, safety and security, and it has changed the way that the industry conducts business.
"Erin Andrews showed phenomenal courage by deciding to go forward with this case all the way through trial," said Andrews' attorney, Bruce Broillet. "She stood up on behalf of everybody and changed an entire industry by holding these people accountable for what they did to her."
The case has prompted lawmakers in various states to address stronger protections against stalking and to enact heavier penalties against anyone convicted of unlawfully photographing another person for sexual gratification. The verdict also resulted in significant changes to hotel procedures in order to insure the safety, security and privacy of hotel guests all over America, including California.
"As a result of the case, hotels have changed their policies to make people safer when they go to any hotels around the world," said Andrews' attorney Scott Carr. "Not only have they changed their policies but they have changed their training to make sure that their employees don't give out private information."
Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP is one of the country's top plaintiffs' injury law firms, specializing in wrongful death, catastrophic injury, legal malpractice and product defect cases. The firm's website is www.greene-broillet.com.
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SOURCE Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP