A Florida jury on Friday (March 18) 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.
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 18, 2016)(NBC) – A Florida jury on Friday (March 18) 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.
As the award was announced, Hogan cried and hugged his Lawyer, David Houston.
Gawker publisher Nick Denton said the website would appeal the verdict. A Gawker attorney previously said a loss could put it out of business.
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.
“Mr. Bollea is exceptionally happy,” said Houston, referring to Hogan by his legal name, “This is not only his victory today, but also anyone else who’s been victimized by tabloid journalism. We’re coming back Monday for the rest of it and we thank you for your interest,” he added.
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.