Hulk Hogan’s $140m trial win over Gawker upheld
A judge has upheld Hulk Hogan’s $140 million trial win over Gawker.
The 62-year-old wrestler won $140 million from the media website in March – $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million more in punitive damages – after they published a 2006 sex tape of him and his friend Bubba The Love Sponge’s then-wife Heather Clem in 2012.
Gawker’s attorney Seth Berlin ordered the judge to reduce the jury verdict, saying that the jury’s damages determination would be "one of the largest in Florida’s history and grossly excessive compared to the conduct at issue".
But Hulk’s lawyer Shane Vogt claimed the $25 million part of the damages was "low", but also showed "proof" that the judge was not bankrupting Gawker.
He added: "[This] is a first-impression case. You can throw all those other cases out the window.
"For the first time, the jury has put a value on privacy. This is not like the tobacco cases. We live in a world where privacy is much more important. Everyone has a cellphone camera. There are drones out there."
There was further drama surrounding the case following claims billionaire Peter Thiel has been providing Hulk with financial backing.
Last month, Gawker – who had been ordered to pay the hefty sum after a court found they invaded the professional wrestler’s privacy by publishing the video online – appealed the jury’s decision to award Hulk the $140 million.
The website asked for a judge to reconsider the decision and requests they pay no more than $1.875 million to Hulk, whose real name is Terry Bollea.
In court papers filed this week, Gregg Thomas, the company’s lawyer said: "There is substantial evidence that, in reaching its verdict as to both liability and damages, the jury was guided by passion and prejudice, rather than the pertinent facts and the law.
"The jury’s award is 12 times the largest compensatory damages award in American history arising from a media publication that has survived post-trial motions and appeals."
Hulk’s lawyer David Houston said: "Gawker has made no secret of the fact that they were planning to file a motion for a new trial and an appeal based on arguments that are meaningless to the case at hand. We emerged victorious once and we plan to do so again.
"Of note, it is apparent Gawker is unable to accept responsibility for their actions or demonstrate any intention of correcting their behaviour."
Gawker are appealing the verdict.