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)
GUILTY: Jury rules Michael Flynn’s former business partner is guilty of lobbying for Turkey
Michael Flynn's former business partner Bijan Kian was found guilty by a jury for illegally lobbying for a foreign country.
The information was uncovered as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and as the Justice Department's crackdown on illegal foreign lobbying, CNN explained.
Flynn has had a difficult go in his court case, but information Flynn gave was helpful, according to the DOJ.
Kian is an Iranian-American businessman who was charged with conspiring to hide his lobbying work for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent for the Turkish government.
“It’s as bad as it looks”: Pelosi under fire for debt ceiling deal that hands GOP power to kneecap progressive agenda
"It sets up a crisis of the first year of the next president's administration," said a former congressional staffer. "We're letting them light the fuse on another bomb and place it squarely in the middle of the next president's first year."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have helped temporarily avert a looming fiscal crisis on Tuesday by striking a budget deal with the Trump administration, but progressives warned the agreement hands Republicans power to kneecap the next president's agenda by suspending the debt ceiling until after the 2020 elections.
FLASHBACK: Mueller makes GOP lawmaker look like an absolute fool during 2013 hearing
While previewing former special counsel Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony before the House of Representatives, CNN on Tuesday played a clip from six years ago showing Mueller schooling Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who tried to corner the then-FBI director about his agency's work on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
During the hearing, Gohmert tried to get Mueller to explain why the FBI supposedly hadn't visited the mosque that was frequented by the Tsarnaev brothers, the two American citizens of Chechen descent who carried out the attack.
"Why did no one go to the mosque and say, who are these guys?" Gohmert asked. "Why was that not done?"