Hulk Hogan may not be affiliated with the WWE anymore, but the pro wrestler pinned down Gawker Media on Friday.
Following two weeks of court proceedings, which included testimony about genitalia, how young is too young to publish a sex tape, and when Hulk Hogan stops being Hulk Hogan and starts being Terry Bollea, the six-person jury, four women and two men, awarded Hogan $115 million in punitive damages. The jury came to the decision after six hours of deliberations.
"Mr. Bollea is exceptionally happy," said his lawyer David Houston. "This is not only his victory today, but also anyone else who's been victimized by tabloid journalism."
Bollea sued Gawker for $100 million for defamation, loss of privacy and emotional pain. In 2012, the blog published a snippet of a 2007 sex tape involving Bollea and the wife of local radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, aka Todd Clem.
Gawker Media, which had expected to lose at trial, will now appeal. Gawker's main argument is that it has the First Amendment on its side. Gawker will also argue that because Clem invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the jury only heard part of the story. (Clem's previous deposition was entered at trial.)
"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," said Gawker Media founder and CEO Nick Denton in a statement. "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."
Next week the jury will decide on whether to impose punitive damages on top of the hardship damages.