A Nashville jury awarded sportscaster Erin Andrews over $50 million dollars for emotional distress and a violation of privacy rights. The lawsuit was against the Marriott Hotel chain and Ms. Andrew’s stalker. The stalker had specifically requested the Marriott allow him to stay in a room adjacent to Ms. Andrew’s, from where he secretly videotaped her naked. His Erin Andrews peephole videos were subsequently posted on the Internet and viewed by millions of people.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
New York State tort law recognizes a claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED). This is an intentional tort that carries a statute of limitations of only one year. New York tort also recognizes an unintentional negligence claim for emotional distress, as well.
Emotional distress claims present serious challenges for trial lawyers because the client’s emotional suffering is not always visible or obvious, and, thus, juries sometimes view emotional distress claims with skepticism. Emotional distress cases are also challenging because there are very few objective tests to confirm the diagnosis, which causes people to question the validity of the injury. For example, a jury will easily accept an x-ray image as evidence of a fracture. The jury will always accept a psychiatrist’s diagnosis of anxiety disorder or depression.
In the Erin Andrews case, the defense argued, albeit unsuccessfully, that she did not suffer any damages as a consequence of the privacy invasion. The defense argued that her career was propelled as a result of the extraordinary media coverage.
Claims for Emotional & Psychological Issues
At Basch & Keegan, we handle claims for emotional distress, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), mood disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, and cognitive impairments. As a general rule, we find that clients who get psychological and emotional counseling generally get more favorable settlements. We also recommend that people who are considering an emotional distress claim undergo a neuropsychological evaluation if there has been a traumatic brain injury of any sort.