When Erin Andrews walked into that Nashville courtroom day in and day out these past couple of weeks, she wasn’t doing it so she herself could pocket a few extra dollars. She wasn’t doing it for the publicity or the sympathy, the attention or the accompanying columns on Page Six. She was doing it because she, like so many others, had been a victim of another’s actions -- and she, unlike so many others, had the means to take a stand against it. To take a stand for everyone.
That, at least, is what the seven women and five men of the jury recognized in Andrews’ recent civil suit against Marriott. The hotel chain was tried for negligence in the incident in which a stalker was given access to the room next to hers, and proceeded to alter peep holes and film Andrews naked, alone and vulnerable.
"It's important that when we walk into hotels or any public building that says they're going to take care of us that they take care of us, and we feel safe and secure in their environment," Terry Applegate, one of the jurors, told NBC News. "And this hotel did not do that."
Around 17 million people have seen that recording of Andrews, unaware, in the nude. A fact that, as she made clear on the stand, still haunts her every single day, as her privacy is violated once more whenever anyone, anywhere clicks play. Now that is why she took on this suit -- so no one else would ever have to live with such trauma again.
The jury, thankfully, understood that, and let its empathy for this woman’s experience and its horror at the thought of being in her place guide it towards that $55 million award.
"I think the jury as part of the process wanted to make sure Erin was recognized for these eight years when she's battling this because she didn't have to," Applegate said. "She did it, I think, out of principle, to make the world a better place.”
That is, unlike those anonymous Internet users who have been firing verbal shots at Andrews for supposedly seeking unneeded money, the 12 deliberators in this case realized that Andrews wouldn’t force herself to relive this pain if she were just doing it for herself. And the very fact that she was willing to put herself through this trauma once more, for the sake of, as Applegate phrased it, making “the world a better place,” for other women -- and men -- and for the sake of taking a moral stand, well, that is something that the jury can appreciate.
"I've got two sons and a wife, and I think about what if it was my wife inside that room, or my kids," Noble Taylor, a juror and a police sergeant, said.
In this case, Andrews, a public figure, became an Every Woman. As she was singled out and stripped down to her most vulnerable state as a result of that recording, she came to stand for every person who’s been violated in some way, victimized in some fashion, through no fault or action of his or her own.
Andrews became the beloved aunt or cousin to those jurors. The brave woman who was willing to put herself on the line -- again -- to hold accountable those who are responsible, and to set a much-needed precedent to protect the future Erin Andrews' of the world, who don’t have the means or the name recognition necessary to stand up for themselves.
“[The] hotel needed to have a little hurt, to understand that this is not an insignificant thing to happen -- and should never, ever happen again,” Applegate added.