The Slatest

Jury Awards Hulk Hogan $115 Million in Gawker Suit, Punitive Damages Still to Come

Hulk Hogan
Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, takes the oath in court during his trial against Gawker Media at the Pinellas County Courthouse on March 8 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

John Pendygraft-Pool/Getty Images

A Florida jury awarded Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, $115 million in damages on Friday evening, ruling that Gawker Media, its publisher Nick Denton, and its former editor A.J. Daulerio violated Hogan’s privacy by publishing an excerpt of a sex tape featuring the pro wrestler. Gawker will appeal the verdict.

CNN reported that the jury of four women and two men deliberated for six hours before ruling in favor of Hogan, who cried when the verdict was announced. CNN media reporter Tom Kludt reports that Gawker will be required to post a bond of $50 million. The $115 million award consists of $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress. The jury will reconvene next week to decide upon additional punitive damages.

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After the verdict was announced, Denton released a statement saying he expected to win the case on appeal:

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Given key evidence and the most important witnesses were both improperly withheld from the jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case. … [I] am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That’s why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win the case ultimately.

As the New York Times reported on Thursday, Hogan’s lawyers argued that “the video was not newsworthy, that its publication caused him ‘emotional stress and harm,’ and that Gawker posted it only for financial gain.” Gawker’s argument, according to the Times: “[I]ts decision to publish the excerpt is protected by the First Amendment. Further, it argues that Mr. Bollea often referred to his sexual exploits in public—in his autobiographies, [on Howard Stern’s radio show], and on television—and so it is difficult for him to claim his privacy was infringed in this area.” Hogan’s attorneys responded by saying that those boasts came from Hogan “the character,” and not Terry Bollea.

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