A Florida jury on Friday awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million with the possibility of more after finding the Gawker website violated his privacy by publishing a sex tape of the celebrity wrestler.
After deliberating six hours, the jury awarded Hogan $60 million for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages. They remain sequestered until Monday when the jury will consider punitive damages and other matters.
“This is a victory for everyone who has had their privacy violated,” Hogan’s attorney, David Houston, said.
As the award was announced, Hogan cried and hugged Houston.
Gawker publisher Nick Denton said the website would appeal the verdict.
Hogan had sought $100 million in damages over the edited video that Gawker, a New York-based outlet known for gossip and media reporting, posted online in 2012.
The jury of two men and four women agreed with Hogan that his privacy had been violated, that the violation had caused him harm and that Hogan had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The case drew attention as a digital-age test of a celebrity’s privacy rights and freedom of the press under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Gawker’s one-minute, 41-second video depicted Hogan, 62, engaged in sex with the wife of his then-best friend, radio “shock jock” personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Hogan, a longtime star of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), said he did not know the consensual encounter had been recorded when it occurred nearly a decade ago in Bubba’s home.
Gawker’s video included excerpts from a 30-minute sex tape the company obtained without knowing its origin.
Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, testified that he still suffers from the humiliation of a video that went viral. The video was viewed 2.5 million times on the Gawker site.
The mustachioed wrestling icon wore a signature black bandana during a two-week trial in St. Petersburg, Florida, near his home. Testimony touched on media ethics, website analytics and Hogan’s statements about his sex life, including descriptions of his genitalia.
Gawker said the posting was in keeping with the outlet’s mission to cover true and interesting subjects, stressing Hogan had made his sex life a public matter.
Denton and the editor responsible for the post, A.J. Daulerio, were called as defense witnesses. Both named in the lawsuit, they stood by the post, which Denton said “stands up to the test of time.”
(Reporting by Jared Leone; Writing by Letitia Stein and Joseph Ax; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Deutsche Bank busted in money-laundering scheme case
Prosectors in Frankfurt have dropped their investigation into two Deutsche Bank employees who were accused of aiding tax evasion schemes in the Virgin Islands, due to "lack of suspicion." The institution has instead been fined for compliance lapses.
“With the closure of these proceedings it is clear that the prosecutors have not found any instances of criminal misconduct on the part of Deutsche Bank employees following the raid of our Frankfurt office in November 2018,” Deutsche Bank spokesman Joerg Eigendorf said in a statement.
“The investigation that has now been closed due to lack of sufficient suspicion had a heavy impact on Deutsche Bank last year,” he added. “It is true that the bank had weaknesses in its control environment in the past. We identified these weaknesses and we have addressed them in a disciplined manner.”
North Carolina towns forced to cancel Christmas celebrations over fear of violence from right wing extremist groups
Two North Carolina towns are canceling their annual Christmas celebration parades "amid fears of violence due to Confederate groups’ participation in the events," The Daily Beast reports.
Citing a “potential for violence,” for the first time in over 70 years the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina says it will have no Christmas parade. Garner, NC, has also canceled its Christmas parade.
The Daily Beast cites "reports that Garner had plans to include a float sponsored by a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans but said social-media posts led town officials to believe 'the event could be targeted for disruption.'"
Giuliani’s deceitful Ukraine business web should leave everyone speechless
I am not making this up, so fasten your seatbelts belts. It is all downhill from here in the ever-stranger Trump universe.
Moving to the global front pages is a company called Fraud Guarantee. Its co-owners, Ukrainian and U.S. nationals, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have held many meetings at the Washington, D.C. Trump Hotel with Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York city and the real-life version of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter.