Twitter Facebook Instagram Google+ Tumblr YouTube E-Mail WhatsApp Sign In Check Close snapchat
Search
Exit Clear

Jury Awards Hulk Hogan $115 Million in Gawker Sex Tape Case

Jury Awards Hulk Hogan $115 Million in Gawker Sex Tape Case: Splash News

Splash News

After hearing two weeks of testimony and deliberating for nearly six hours, the Florida jury in Hulk Hogan’s privacy suit against Gawker Media awarded the plaintiff $115 million on Friday. The verdict is, arguably, a win for privacy at the cost of free speech.

Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, took on the media company, its founder Nick Denton and the former editor of Gawker.com, Albert J. Daulerio, over its 2012 publishing of a Hogan sex tape. The tape, which Hogan claims was recorded without his knowledge, shows him with Heather Cole, the then-wife of his best friend, a radio shock jock known as Bubba the Love Sponge. Gawker’s post of the tape included a rundown of the encounter between Hogan and Heather Cole and an essay from Daulerio about celebrity sex.

The court case began on March 7 and produced a series of bizarre moments, including discussions of penis size and sex-tape mechanics. But issues of privacy, free speech and the nature of modern journalism came to the fore as Gawker defended its decision to publish the sex-tape exerpt as protected by the First Amendment. Claims of privacy, the media company argues, are difficult to defend when Bollea often talked about his sex life in public. Bollea’s lawyers say the video was not newsworthy and made a case that Bollea himself is distinct from his public persona, Hulk Hogan, who was actually the figure talking about his sex life in public. This separation of public figure from private figure is especially noteworthy in a First Amendment case, where the newsworthiness of personal items from each is considered differently by law.

An appeal is certain. In a statement released after the verdict, Denton says, “Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case … [W]e feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately.”

Since its founding, Gawker Media has been majority-owned by Denton. According to the New York Times, the company took an outside investment for the first time recently, in order to secure funds for this case.

Playboy Social