Things have gone from bad to worse for Gawker Media, as a Florida jury trial over its publication of a sex tape concludes.
The same jury that ordered Gawker Media to pay $115 million on Friday for violating the privacy of Terry Bollea, better known as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, has heaped on an extra $25 million in punitive damages. The six-person jury said Gawker should pay an additional $15 million, while company founder and CEO Nick Denton was hit with an extra $10 million, according to a Reuters report from the courtroom.
Hogan’s lawyer: Gawker editor was “playing God” with my client’s privacy.
The jury said an editor involved with the post, AJ Daulerio, should pay $100,000 in punitive damages. Daulerio and Denton were both held personally liable in the earlier trial.
Gawker was sued in 2012 by Bollea for publishing footage of Bollea having sex with the wife of his friend. Florida radio star Todd Clem, who later changed his name to Bubba the Love Sponge, invited Hogan to sleep with his wife Heather.
Clem has made conflicting statements about whether Bollea knew about the recording. He settled the case, leaving only Gawker going to trial.
Gawker has said they plan to appeal the verdict. They’ll have to post a bond to do so, which is capped at $50 million. Denton has taken outside financing to see through the litigation.
Bollea’s lawyers said that Gawker wantonly violated their client’s rights, and that it was “disturbing… how proud they are of it.” A lawyer for Gawker said the publication of the tape, and accompanying essay, was a commentary about celebrity sex tapes, and that Hogan had discussed his sex life in public many times.
World Wrestling Entertainment fired Bollea last year after other parts of the tape were published that showed him making racist comments. Those parts of the tape weren’t published by Gawker.