Gawker loses sex-tape fight with Hulk Hogan

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/ Getty Images.

It’s official: Media company Gawker has lost the lawsuit over a sex tape brought against it by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

After about three hours of deliberations on Friday afternoon, the jury in the case came back with a verdict finding that Gawker violated Hogan’s privacy by posting a sex tape online.

Gawker will have to pay Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages — $55 million in economic injuries plus $60 million for emotional injuries.

Hogan will also be awarded punitive damages, to be decided in court on Monday. The jury also found that Gawker CEO Nick Denton and former editor A.J. Daulerio, who originally posted the video in question, are personally liable.

Gawker had been preparing for this verdict, and hinted earlier on Friday that “an appeal could be necessary.” The appeal strategy will hinge on the fact that radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, Hogan’s best friend and the filmer of the tape was not given the chance to testify in the case.

At issue during the trial was a tape obtained by Gawker and published in 2012, featuring Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea — in an encounter with the wife of a friend. It was edited to less than two minutes long and appeared on a page without advertising.

Hogan says that the video’s release caused him “lasting humiliation.” He originally sought $100 million in damages. Gawker’s argument was that Hogan was a public figure who had often discussed his sex life in public, thus making the tape’s release newsworthy.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, Denton said:

Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case. I want to thank our lawyers for their outstanding work and am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That’s why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately.

You can download all sorts of documentation from the case, including videotaped depositions, at the court’s site.

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