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?
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?