After deliberating for about five hours or so following this morning’s closing arguments, a Pinellas County, Florida jury has ruled for Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) on all counts in his lawsuit against Gawker Media, founder/publisher Nick Denton, and former editor Albert James “A.J.” Daulerio. Hogan had sued them for posting excerpts of a sex tape of him and Heather Cole, then-wife of his then-best friend/radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem (Clem shot the video surreptitiously). Hogan had always insisted the video, which was leaked to Gawker by an anonymous source, was shot without his knowledge and consent.
The jury of four women and two men found for Hogan on all counts and awarded a total of $115 million two phases of compensatory damages:
- $60 million for emotional damages.
- $55 million for economic loss (A number his lawyers came up with based on multiplying how many people they say watched it by the $4.95 bottom end price to access the Vivid Celebs sex tape site).
This puts Gawker in danger, as while they’d likely win on appeal, they may need to post a $50 million bond to appeal the award per Florida law, and there are questions if they can. On Monday, the jury will return to determine what they feel Gawker owes for punitive damages.
UPDATE 7:31 p.m. ET: Gawker sent out this statement from founder Nick Denton, who’s optimistic about an appeal:
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.
We’ll have more on the topic later, so watch this post as well as the front page.