Florida jury to weigh punitive damages in Hulk Hogan sex tape case
Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan returned to a Florida courtroom on Monday to argue that the Gawker website should have to pay significant punitive damages on top of the $115 million it must pay for posting a sex tape online.
Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, is arguing the $60 million for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages that a jury awarded him last week has not sent a strong enough message to the media company.
Gawker plans to appeal the decision in a civil case that has drawn wide interest for testing boundaries between a celebrity’s privacy rights and press liberties in the digital age.
Hogan sued over Gawker’s 2012 posting of a video clip that showed him having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Hogan, 62, testified that he did not know that their consensual tryst was being recorded when it occurred nearly a decade ago inside Clem’s home.
Gawker stands a good chance of getting the verdict pared back or reversed on appeal, legal experts believe.
Gawker CEO and publisher Nick Denton and the editor responsible for the post, A.J. Daulerio, were both named in the lawsuit and found personally liable.
Gawker argued that Hogan had made his sex life fair game by publicly sharing details about it. The New York-based online publication saw its posting as protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The jury disagreed, finding the post violated his privacy.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Alden Bentley)