On Monday, sportscaster Erin Andrews was awarded $55 million in damages for a secretly-recorded nude video taken of her at the Nashville Marriott in 2008.
But Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann tells PEOPLE that it will be difficult for Andrews to get all of that money.
McCann points out that 51 percent of her damages are assigned to be paid by Michael Barrett, the man who filmed Andrews by removing peepholes from her door and pointing his cell phone camera into her room. “We don’t know what his finances are, but it’s a reasonable assumption that he has very little money given that he was in prison and it doesn’t appear he has preserved any professional career,” McCann says.
McCann wrote in his Sports Illustrated column that in 2010, the lawyer for Barrett said he lost his entire life savings. During Andrews’s trial, Barrett said his motivation for filming Andrews was financial, and that he was “not proud” of his actions.
The remaining 49 percent – or $27 million – was assigned to be paid by West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital, the two companies that operate the Nashville Marriott. (Andrews initially sued Marriott International, but in January of 2016 Marriott International was dismissed from the suit after successfully arguing it was not legally responsible.)
McCann tells PEOPLE it’s difficult to speculate on the ability of those companies to pay, saying, “We don’t have their finances either so we don’t know their worth.”
McCann wrote that the possibility exists that the two hotel companies may be obligated to pay all or some of the $28 million owed by Barrett.
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McCann: Appeal Likely
McCann tells PEOPLE, “They will likely appeal and demand the reward be reduced dramatically.”
McCann wrote that it’s possible the companies can appeal on the grounds that the jury acted with passion rather than thought.
McCann tells PEOPLE, “Most likely, [Andrews’s] attorneys will reach a settlement with the hotel companies.” He estimated her payout will be “seven figures, maybe eight, certainly in the millions where she will be guaranteed payment.”
After the ruling on Monday, attorneys for West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital said they would appeal.
A statement to PEOPLE by Spicer Rudstrom PLLC, which represents the companies, reads: “Our clients were manipulated by a criminal who had honed his skill at several prior hotels before coming to Nashville to commit his intentional act against Ms. Andrews. It is very difficult to overcome the perception that Michael Barrett s acts, acts he also committed at other hotels and against other women, should be the responsibility of our clients. We are discussing with our clients their options at this point in light of the ruling.”
Andrews’s Testimony ‘Powerful’
McCann noted in his column for Sports Illustrated that most plaintiffs in civil suits don’t fare nearly as well as Andrews. He cited a Department of Justice study finding that victims of medical malpractice receive $400,000 on average, as well as a North Carolina Law Review article from 2010 finding that the average award for the wrongful death of an adult female is $3 million.
McCann says Andrews might have received such a relatively big award because “her testimony was very powerful. She talked about how this incident continued to affect her life. The strategy that the hotel operators used to claim that she somehow benefited from this exposure probably worked out badly.”