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Okay, I'm certainly no expert, and I haven't even installed Linux for the first time yet (but oh, I'm getting close!), but here's a suggestion/question.
You are Root. Can you give some kind of 'Root' permission to 'Eric', so that he is capable of doing everything that Root is (was) able to do? If so, I imagine you could then log in as Eric and set all files back to being accessable by everyone. Log back in as Root, take away the 'root' permission of Eric again.
Hope this is of some help in at least some small way. :/
No, no-- please do not do that (referring to beerwulf's suggestion)!!!
The very point of user privilege separation is that eric should never have the permissions of root (except temporarily). This occurrence is the very reason that it is strongly suggested that one not log in as root (because it's very easy to fubar your system that way, as you now know).
Have you tried going back as root and doing a chown in reverse (using the username root instead of eric)? Can't get much worse at this point.
Wait a minute-- when you say, your server, do you mean the whole system, or are you talking about a server running on the system (which is what I assumed)?
If you mean the former, I must admit, I did this once myself, and made the system unbootable by doing so (as many system files were no longer owned by root, which they needed to be). IIrc, I solved it by doing an upgrade install over the original install to set the permissions back correctly.
You need to change the ownership of system files back to root or nothing will work. Some files won't or aren't supposed to run as root for security purposes. There you will have to find the documentation and re-chown each individual file/folder.
Well, I did say "Log back in as Root, take away the 'root' permission of Eric again" which complies with "eric should never have the permissions of root (except temporarily)." :P
But that's neither here nor there now, especially given that it seems you can still change file permissions as Root, even if they're owned by someone else.... which actually does make a heck of a lot of sense.