Hulk Hogan Wins Big In Gawker Trial!

Hulk Hogan and his attorney after case went to the jury. Pool Photo by Boyzell Hosey

Hogan and his attorney as case went to the jury. Pool Photo:Boyzell Hosey

I have never mourned to loss of CourtTV as much as I have the past couple weeks. I mean a case that involves,  Hulk Hogan,  Bubba the Love Sponge and his wife Heather, sex on a surveillance tape, and the complete destruction of a website, Gawker, which at one point in time was a pretty decent site.  Who among us would not have watched this gavel to gavel.

The backstory: Around ten years ago, Hulk Hogan was going through a divorce and was very, very sad.  His good friend Bubba said something like, ” Hey buddy! You know what cheers me up? Sex with my wife. You should take her out for a spin!” According to Hulk there was much encouragement from the couple to wet his wick with Heather.  Bubba it appears, installed the camera and was present for some or all of the sexual encounter.

But, depending on who you believe, this was all a set up to get a sex tap with Heather (and the name draw, Hulk) because this is what women in this country to now to make a millions of dollars.  Mysteriously the security footage of the incident made its way on the Internet in 2012. Mostly still photos at first, and then Gawker got a very brief bit of the video of Hulk and Hogan doing the do. And they posted it online. I’m guessing Bubba was paid by someone. What do you think?


Pool Photo: Boyzell Hosey

Pool Photo: Boyzell Hosey


This act alone caused the best writers and Gawker to resign. And Hulk Hogan filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit. Gawker and Hogan tried at some point to settle, but Hogan decided to take the case to trial.

In court, Hogan explained that it was not “Hulk Hogan” who was on the tape but his real persona, “Terry Bollea” and that it was a violation of his privacy.  You think? He also said lots of other stuff like how Hulk Hogan exaggerates his sexual prowess. Again, shocker!

When the former Editor-In-Chief ,  A.J. Daulerio, of Gawker was deposed, he made some comment that he would post a sex tape of anyone.  He was asked if there was anything that might convince him not to publish, he said if there was a child in it.  He was then asked about the age of the child, he said he would publish a sex tape with a child in it if the child was older than four.  He later said he was joking about that.  Because, you all know how funny child porn is.  This genius also edited the video from 30 minutes to less than two, but made sure to include what Hulk is working with in the video.

Today, it took the jury six hours to find in favor of Hogan.  He was awarded $115 million dollars in compensatory damages. The judge will likely award huge punitive damages as well at a later time. Gawker is on the hook for damages, as well as the website’s founder and majority owner Nick Denton and A.J. Daulerio were both found personally liable

The defense is appealing the verdict.

Despite the fact that this seems to be a pretty clear case that the jury got right. Plenty of lawyers feel like this case could have first amendments implications.  The basis of that line of thought is that under the laws that govern reporting on a public figure, which are extremely lenient compared to the privacy laws of a private citizen,  a celebrity sex tape is “newsworthy.” I suppose the lines could get fuzzy there. However, the main problem with this case for the defense is that the two men who were found liable today are extremely unlikable and do not come across well at all on the stand.

So did the jury get things right?


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52 responses to “Hulk Hogan Wins Big In Gawker Trial!

  1. Toni Lee Gildea

    They got it right.

  2. Gapeachinsc

    I don’t know if they got it right or not. I’m just kind of shaking my head, wondering about this world we live in…this old preacher used to say there is nothing new under the sun, everything that goes on today has been going on since the dawn of time. Can that possibly be true? Only now we have the technology to back it all up & less shame in our actions and motivations? And am I wrong and making too many moral judgements?

  3. Miguel

    Wowie… this is fascinating… sends a message to people whom exploit others sexually! Terry felt violated, tricked & embarrassed; and Gawker et al. will pay. It’s the minimum of $115M that seems a bit excessive, no?

  4. Lisaj

    I’m concerned with the potential amendment infringement but I think they got this right.

  5. Micheal

    Yes they got it right. 100%

    Also wish that the private citizen who was outed on Gawker as being blackmailed by a gay porn actor- sued as well. Fuck Gawker. They are complete trash.

    • Micheal

      The fact that Gawker openly defied AND mocked a court order to remove the video makes punitive damages so easy to impose. They were calculated, flagrant and irresponsible not only to Hogan but the court’s jurisdiction.

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

      Agree Michael Gawker is the scum of the earth!

  6. Erica

    Depends on how much they made off of it.

    • tamaratattles

      The prosecution claims 54 million increase in “site valuation” which is sort of an abstract thing. Gawker claimed 678 million page views a year. That a shit ton of ad rev.

  7. Addie2U

    Surprised this went to the jury (and back) so quickly. I watched the first 3 days online but got sidetracked and planned on catching up this weekend. Good for Terry Bollea.

    ETA- Par for the course – when interviewed several days ago the angry, revengeful ex – Linda said “he doesn’t deserve a dime”. “He singlehandedly ruined a 25yr marriage and our family” blah,blah,blah, destroyed my trust, our animals, future weddings and grandchildren, blah,blah,blah, destroyed his earnings / retirement / legacy / his “soul”. She’d be singing a different tune if she could get her hands on a fraction of that cash.

  8. Allison

    They got it right. 115$ million may seem excessive, but the odds of him actually seeing any of that, especially if Gawker is defunct or not doing well, are slim to none. He’ll get something, but never that. Or whatever enormous punitive damages are awarded. Plus the defendants in these cases usually appeal and the award is somehow reduced.

    • Micheal

      I remember briefly reading that as the case is in Florida to appeal Gawker needs to front up the award first.

      On second glance it appears it may only have to be a 50mil bond, still, this will REALLY hurt Gawker and they have been silent since the verdict went public.

      Any Floridian lawyers here who can give us a bit more info? My american law is a bit rusty.

      • tamaratattles

        The state caps the bond at $50 million. However, they will appeal that too citing that paying the bond would substantially impair them from defending themselves. That appeal will probably be granted. BUT they may have to do a complete rendering of assets and liabilities first.

        Not a FL lawyer, just an imaginary Internet one. :)

      • Micheal

        Either way, I see some of te’Gawker Empire’ being sold off soon. I hope Gizmodo and Kotaku go so they are insulated from Gawker’s eventual downfall.

  9. Did he sue Bubba and/or Heather?

  10. redbluegreen

    The jury got it right. I love that they awarded him more than he asked for (he asked for 100M, they gave him 115M).

    I’m NOT a Bubba the Love Sponge fan, but I used to be a Howard Stern show fan (back in the Artie days, when it was good) and Howard gave Bubba a show on his satellite radio channel. I still keep an eye on stern show message boards every now and then, and here’s the deal as I remember it.

    Bubba had videos of his wife having sex with various men that he showed to the guys that worked for him, including the Hogan video. He had a falling out with his producer, Spice Boy, involving money and Spice Boy getting work on a different show. So as an act of revenge against Bubba, Spice Boy stole the video and sold it to Gawker.

    The thing I don’t understand is why Bubba hasn’t sued Spice Boy or had him arrested for theft. They are still on the outs, so I don’t believe Bubba benefited in any way.

  11. Jim

    Meh. How stupid do you have to be to have sex with some shady person’s wife while he’s in the next room listening? And then not look in the corner of the room for a (not too) hidden camera… that’s just asinine especially if you’re a public figure. Suing Gawker for showing the video just seems frivolous. Did Bubba and his wife escape a lawsuit?

    Anyways, I very much enjoyed seeing Hulk’s very girthy penis. Thanks Gawker!

    • Micheal

      There is no difference between you and the people who downloaded Jennifer Lawrence’s private photos that were hacked.

      Your summation and oversimplification of the issues, both moral and legal, is asinine.

      • Crazy in NC

        What Michael said.

      • Jim

        Those celeb photos were hacked by malicious people. Someone (Bubba or Heather?) gave Gawker the video. Gawker just ‘published’ the video, they didn’t steal it. It seems to me that the real guilty party here doesn’t have enough money to make a lawsuit worth the effort for Mr. Hogan.

      • Micheal

        Jim – you missed my point.

        In your message you thanked Gawker for showing you his peen, so you were a consumer of the private video. Just like the people who downloaded the private pics of Jennifer and other celebs in the fappening.

        You’re just as bad.

        Gawker published the video maliciously as it was not newsworthy and an invasion of privacy.

        Further, they ignored a court order demanding it be removed! They acted maliciously and flagrantly, that is why pubitive damages WILL be awarded.

      • Leelee

        I think the issue is whether Hulk Hogan, who willingly invited cameras into his home and his private life, has forfeited his right to privacy by doing so. Where does his reasonable expectation of privacy begin? This is why it has First Ammendment implications. Compare his reward to Erin Andrews relatively measly $50M, when her privacy rights were clearly violated. Maybe the jury got it right, but the reward seems inflated.

      • tamaratattles

        I’m thinking that by filming a reality show, his expected right to privacy ends somewhere before he is but ass naked and fucking some THOT.

        While being a wrestler and a public figure may mean you have to put up with paps outside your house, following you around, checking into your financial business, posting photos of your genitalia, or videos of you having sex.

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        The beauty of the constitution is that it has grown with our country for over 200 years. And there are laws of the land that govern and determine what “free speech” means and how it has changed since the 1700s. I’ve yet to see the interpretation change to say that showing me anyone’s dick who didn’t want to show it to me, was “free speech.”

        If you show your house on TV, I can talk about it, photograph it, film it, mock it and say it has taken you 5 years to create a mountain of mold. That is free speech. If you want to fuck some whore that married your bestie and your bestie video tapes it, it is not “free speech” or the “public’s right to know” in any way.

        Gawkwer Media deserves to be destroyed.

        This is in no way related to Erin Andrews who public figure or not went to a hotel room with the expectation of privacy and that hotel chain allowed someone to ask for the room next to hers and proceeded to violate her and then sell the footage.

        You cannot compare settlements. BOTH are basically figurative. Erin Andrews could well end up with more.

        The upcoming putative damages are going to be designed to shut down Gawker Media. And I believe they will be big enough to do that.

        The first admendment rights have already been limited by the Supreme Court.

      • Micheal

        As they should be!

        So many Americans have this belief that their amendments are absolute and any regulation of them is heresey.

        First and second amendments should be regulated. Preventing people from buying ak47s is a good one, preventing people from monetising and publishing very private images/videos of a celebrity is another.

        If the pic or video shows their hypocrisy (like outing a very antigay figure) then the argument is there for the information to be ‘newsworthy’.

        However, the size and girth of a celebirty will never be newsworthy. Some people just have a hardon for Gawker and can’t see reason.

  12. More Tea Please!

    What a hot mess! What’s the likelihood that those two honarable, upright, moral citizens of Gawker ave $115 million in the bank or liability insurance to cover this? Legal Eagles – Can they declare bankruptcy or can Hulk go after their assets?

    On a side note, what is the likelihood that dumb-ass Hulk had previously enjoyed seeing the photos of Heather with other men and should have expected his prowess to be captured in all it’s glory?

  13. RW

    Maybe I shouldn’t tell you but Gawker live streamed the trial on its web site

  14. Home

    They definitely got it right! Evasion of privacy and a SHADY friend. I would have given my friend the SIDE EYE if he/she offered their spouse up to me…but sometimes depression makes you do strange things. Even if appealed I believe he will still win…additionally that child porn comment was ridiculous and twisted to say the least…can’t stop shaking my head.

  15. Bubba is definitely a douche for recording but he did not get the tape out. I kept waiting for this to be mentioned in the trial but never heard a word. Here’s how the tape was stolen and leaked

  16. zoemonster2

    Interesting. I don’t think this will take Gawker down- but even if it did- Gawker still owns Deadspin. Gizmodo. Lifehacker. Kotaku.Jalopink. Jezebel.

    • tamaratattles

      Yeah, I foresee some of those being sold soon…

    • More Tea Please!

      I had no idea that Gawker owned all of those. The only ones I frequent are Lifehacker and occassionally Gizmodo.

      I read that Gawker brought in an investor in anticipation of the legal expenses, so basically they will be selling a share of the business to cover legal fees and settlement.

  17. Barbara

    Wow this story has so many parts (pun intended). I read that Bollea settled with Bubba and got $5000. Not much. The wife supposedly did not know it was being taped either. She divorced him. Good info Tamara.

    • tamaratattles

      Heather absolutely did know they were being taped. She had done this many times before. Hulk Hogan heard of tape of Bubba telling her that this is “their retirement” meaning Bubba intended to sell the video himself at some point.

      Let’s try to not cloud up the “good info” with things you “heard.”

      • Barbara

        Agree. That’s why I said supposedly didn’t know. I never knew if that was confirmed or not.

  18. Barbara

    Oh and one more thing,Gawker has been raising outside investment funding since early this year to pay for this lawsuit and I thought got big money from some Russian oligarch. You cannot make this up. And I agree it is too bad Court TV is gone, just imagine the viewers for this circus.

  19. Crazy in NC

    NO ONE, celebrity, politician, random citizen, deserves to have their sex life or private photo collections thrown to the public without their permission. I understand the first amendment celebrity issue, but this is beyond disgusting. I am thrilled that people were found personally liable as well.

  20. Psylocke

    I’m conflicted. Hulk Hogan has said and done some pretty despicable things, but so too has Denton – on a personal level I guess it’s advantageous to be habitually disgusted by both parties. I just hope this isn’t going to affect Jezebel.

    Honestly the one thing that has stood out the most to me during all of this is the discrepancy between how Hogan is being hailed for his victory, and how Erin Andrews was dragged through the mud on social media for her $55 million judgment, which is less than half of what Hogan got. I read countless comments of people alluding to her greediness, of placing a greater emphasis on financial gain over justice, of trying to brush off the seriousness of the situation – all manners of garbage all across the Internet – when imo her privacy was violated more egregiously.

    Can anyone provide any information on how an editor of a company is personally liable for content released under the namesake of his or hers company?

    • tamaratattles

      In exactly the same way that Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd were held personally liable for the hostile work environment at Villa Blanca.

      And his case is even more egregious because court orders were sent to Denton, and he ignored them.

      • Psylocke

        Denton I understand.

        Daulerio I don’t – he was editor-in-chief for less than a year, and was an employee of the company. I don’t see how his actions, acting under Gawkers namesake, would lend towards him being personally liable.

      • Micheal

        The fact that internal emails show them both joking about the court order demanding the email be removed etc. is probably how liability attachs to them individually.

        They were not just doing their job, they overstepped personally.

    • Micheal

      Jezebel has been shit ever since they started publishing 500 days of Kristen.

      • redbluegreen

        That’s posted on Gawker, not Jezebel. Why would you think a site aimed at females would have “500 days” obsessing over the looks of a random d-list reality star?

      • Micheal

        Well it is a prolonged series that is written by a female Gawker writer/editor.

        So I think your inferred point is moot.

        Plus Jezebel regularly obsesses over its hate on female stars like Iggy Azaela regularly. It is far from a feminist ‘safe space’. It’s complete trash these days. Just less trashy than Gawker.

      • tbk

        I let out a “Thank God” when they got to 500. Irritated the shit out of me.

    • Leelee

      Any journalist can be held personally liable, even for publishing heresay. Both the EIC and the publisher gave approval. It is part of their JOB to weigh newsworthiness; the decision to publish was there’s. Therefore, yes, regardless of time on job, they are legally responsible.

      • tamaratattles

        um none of what LeeLee said is true by the way. But I can let her say it and am not liable. But she is apparently eligible for the Earned Income Credit. So her genes will carry on. And they too will probably vote irresponsibly.

  21. Jen

    Absolutely wrong of Gawker to stream the video – it could possibly be ‘newsworthy’ that the video exists, or that it was even ‘stolen’ and was being sold, but the actual content of the video does not need to be shown to get that point across. That said, I don’t believe he deserves that kind of payout, it hasn’t harmed his ability to work or be employed, other commenters suggest that it wasn’t even anything to be ashamed of. I would rather see criminal charges and someone getting time and a record for this kind of crap.

  22. Frosty

    Hm my womanly intuition tells me ol’ Bubba sold the tape himself lol. Might sound nerdy but I’m really pleased with this verdict. As for Gawker and 1st amendment concerns, somehow this country managed to stagger along just fine before Youtube and everyone and their mama putting their privates up for inspection.

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