Privacy Law

Will $140M verdict for Hulk Hogan in sex-tape case survive appeal?

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Hulk Hogan

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Updated: Florida jurors who awarded $115 million to Hulk Hogan on Friday in a sex-case suit against Gawker Media added $25 million in punitive damages on Monday.

Gawker is planning to appeal the verdict, which includes $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress, report Courthouse News Service, the New York Times and the Associated Press. The Hollywood Reporter has news of the punitive damage award.

Gawker publisher Nick Denton said in a statement that “we feel very positive about the appeal” because of key evidence and important witnesses withheld from the jury.

Legal experts told the New York Times that they expected to verdict to be reduced and they didn’t believe the verdict would have a big impact on First Amendment law. “I think this case establishes a very limited proposition: It is an invasion of privacy to make publicly available a tape of a person having sex without that person’s consent,” said University of California at Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

The sex tape, shot by Hogan’s best friend, Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem, showed Hogan having sex with Clem’s wife. Hogan claimed he didn’t realize the sex was being videotaped, and publishing it was an invasion of privacy.

Thousands of pages of previously sealed documents were released on Friday as a result of a request by AP and other media companies. A Florida appeals court had ordered the release earlier in the week.

Many of the documents are connected to an FBI investigation. The documents include assertions that Hogan sued to hide racist comments made on a video, and that Hogan’s sex partner knew of the taping, according to the AP story. Many documents also relate to an FBI probe into an alleged extortion by a Los Angeles lawyer, according to CNN Money.

Updated on March 22 to include news of the punitive damages verdict.

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