Hulk Hogan, the popular professional wrestler and celebrity, was awarded $115 million in a civil lawsuit after a Florida jury determined that an online media company violated his privacy rights. Hogan sued Gawker Media after the company obtained a sex tape featuring the ex-wrestler and posted it online.
The trial was held in a courtroom in St. Petersburg, Florida. During the court proceedings, Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, took the stand and testified that his personal reputation took a major hit when the sex tape leaked online.
At the conclusion of the trial, a six-person jury deliberated for just six hours before ruling in Hogan’s favor and awarding the ex-wrestler $115 million in damages. After the verdict was announced, Hogan could be seen crying as he sat in a chair in the courtroom. He later went on Twitter and addressed his fans by tweeting “Thank you God for justice.”
While making closing arguments in the trial, Hogan’s attorney highlighted the perception of Gawker Media as trafficking in “indecent gossip.” The lawyer also said that the editor in charge of the Gawker website “didn’t have the common decency” to contact either of the people depicted in the sex tape prior to posting it on the Internet.
Gawker’s attorneys countered that this case was about the media company’s First Amendment free speech rights. During closing arguments, one of Hogan’s lawyers told the jury that the press should have the right to publish “unpopular speech” because this kind of speech is protected under the First Amendment.
The jury ultimately decided that Hogan’s privacy rights trumped Gawker’s free speech rights and awarded Hogan a massive judgment of $115 million, with punitive damages yet to come.
For further information about this high-profile case, access the CNN.com article, “Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Gawker Sex Tape Case.”
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