ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Hulk Hogan has won his sex-tape fight against Gawker. A jury awarded the ex-wrestler $115 million in an invasion of privacy lawsuit on Friday.
The New York-based website Gawker published a video in 2012 featuring Hogan having sex with the wife of his best friend, Tampa Bay radio DJ Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem.
“This is not only [Hogan’s] victory today, but also anyone else who’s been victimized by tabloid journalism,” said David Houston, one of Hogan’s attorneys.
Gawker claimed that the one minute and 41 second video clip of Hogan having sex with Heather Cole, Clem’s wife, was not an invasion of Hogan’s privacy, because he is a public figure that has openly discussed his sex life.
“The video Gawker posted is not like a real celebrity sex tape. It’s not like Kim Kardashian. It’s not in color. You don’t see close ups of body parts. You don’t see graphic sex acts in vivid detail,” argued Michael Sullivan, attorney for Gawker, in court.
Hogan’s attorney’s said during the two-week trial that Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, rarely has private moments when he does not have to portray his wrestling character. One of those rare, private moments is in the bedroom.
Hogan claimed he was not aware he was being recorded.
Hogan was awarded $55 million in economic injuries and $60 million in emotional injuries. Hogan will also be awarded punitive damages. The amount will be decided in court on Monday.
Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker, made a brief statement leaving the court room, saying he plans to appeal the ruling on Monday.
“We feel very positive about the appeal that we have already been preparing, and we expect to win this case ultimately,” said Denton. “I am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury.”
Gawker’s attorney’s wanted Clem to testify in court on documents showing he gave contradicting statements on whether or not Hogan knew he was being recorded. He chose not to take the stand.
Gawker also wanted the sex tape to be shown in court before the jury. All six jurors, four women and two men, were given the opportunity to watch the video during deliberation if they wanted to see it, but it’s unclear how many of them viewed the video.
“Why did they not show you that video? The video is the reason we are all here,” said Sullivan in court.
The jury also found Gawker CEO Nick Denton and former editor AJ Daulerio, who originally posted the video on Gawker, to be personally liable.