Posted by: Ray Brescia | March 8, 2016

Hotel’s Liability in the Erin Andrews Case Shows the System Works (but What If It Had Been AirBnB)?

Yesterday, a jury found an affiliate of the Marriott hotel chain liable for failing to prevent a stalker, a guest at one of its hotels, from secretly video recording naked pictures of FOX Sports analyst Erin Andrews (formerly of ESPN) while she, too, was a guest at the hotel.  The jury awarded Andrews $55 million to be roughly split between the stalker and the hotel.  The jury found the hotel liable for its failure to police the situation (according to reports, the stalker had actually contacted the hotel to ask if Andrews was staying there, and the hotel apparently confirmed it).  What this verdict shows is that the legal system works to police a hotel’s failure to protect its guests, even when it is another guest who engaged directly in the inappropriate conduct.  It is also raises the question: what if this had happened during a visit arranged by AirBnB?  In the Andrews case, the stalker had secretly recorded her in her room, which required some effort on the part of the stalker.  If it had been in an AirBnB room, it would have been far easier for the host to record the guest.  All the host would have had to do would have been to rig his or her own home to record the guest.  While the hotel chain in the Andrews case was found liable, could a jury find AirBnB liable for permitting a host to recruit unwitting guests to his or her home only to secretly record them?  Not clear.  What is clear is we need some mechanisms for ensuring better protections for consumers in the Sharing Economy, so situations like this do not unfold in unregulated settings, where they are much more likely to occur.  I explore some of these issues here.

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