Hulk Hogan scored a big victory today in his lawsuit against Gawker over their publication of excerpts of a sex tape shot without his knowledge. According to the Tampa Bay Times, a court-appointed investigator can look over Gawker’s emails, internal records, text messages, and so on. Why? It’s complicated.
Back in July, his infamous racist rant (from another video of Hogan with Heather Cole, the woman from the Gawker video) was released by both The National Enquirer and Radar Online, getting him fired from WWE in the process. Hogan’s lawyers immediately accused Gawker of being behind the leak. Gawker’s lawyers (but not anyone else at Gawker) had access to the transcript stemming from a lawsuit to get the FBI’s case file of their investigation into Hogan being extorted via the sex videos. Gawker has insisted they had nothing to do with the leak.
So what happened today was that Judge Pamela Campbell ruled that Hogan can hav a forensic investigation (at Hogan’s expense) into Gawker’s computers, writing that “The limited discovery is being permitted for the sole purpose of determining whether or not this serious allegation is true.” The investigator can only search for specific terms, including “racist,” “Hulk Hogan,” and “DVD details” in the communication of founder Nick Denton, president/general counsel Heather Dietrick, and A.J. Daulerio, who was editor at the time of the original Hogan article. It’s not entirely clear if other employees can have their emails searched.
Gawker attorney Seth Berlin told the Times that “The order has no basis in law or fact.”