A Florida jury today ruled in favor of Hulk Hogan's privacy claims instead of Gawker's arguments for press freedom. The court handed the former wrestling star a $115 million verdict against Gawker Media over a 2012 gawker.com blog post about the now-infamous Hulk Hogan sex tape.
The jury's decision came after two weeks of testimony in a precedent-setting case dominated by arguments about individual privacy, and about freedom of speech. Hogan sued the New York based media firm for $100 million, saying their post violated his privacy.
Gawker founder Nick Denton talks with his legal team before Hulk Hogan testifies in court, St Petersburg, Florida March 8, 2016.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
"Do you think the media can do whatever they want?" asked Hogan's attorney Ken Turkel in closing arguments.
"We don't need the First Amendment to protect what's popular," responded Gawker attorney Michael Sullivan in his own closing. "We need a First Amendment to protect what's controversial."
"This is not about political speech," rebutted Turkel to the jury. "This case is unique ... You're not going to condemn someone's right to engage in speech. You're balancing the right to make the speech versus privacy rights."
In reaching its verdict, the jury tipped that scale towards privacy. A stunned-looking Nick Denton watched from the gallery and took a deep breath. Gawker has already indicated it will appeal. The focus of the coming proceedings will likely be whether the First Amendment should have precluded claims and whether Gawker got a fair trial.
Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, arrives for his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Florida March 17, 2016. REUTERS Reuters
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