Gawker Media has settled its four-year legal battle with Terry Bollea, the wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, for $31 million. The settlement also covers two other individuals who sued Gawker for defamation, Shiva Ayyadurai and freelance writer Ashley Terrill.
As part of the settlement, Gawker must pay $31 million to Bollea, $750,000 to Ayyadurai and $500,000 to Terrill, and will remove articles that Ayyadurai and Terrill claimed were defamatory.
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton expressed his relief in a blog post Wednesday, acknowledging: “The saga is over.”
Denton went on to rehash the basics of the lawsuit, which was funded by billionaire Facebook investor Peter Thiel.
He explained “an all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight. The Valley billionaire, famously relentless, had committed publicly to support Bollea beyond the appeal and “until his final victory.” Gawker’s nemesis was not going away.”
Denton, who defended his company’s decision to publish leaked clips of Bollea having sex with a friend’s wife before a Florida jury earlier this year, explained that Gawker was founded in order to promote “transparency.” But the Florida jury did not agree.
It wound up awarding Bollea $140.1 million in damages, which forced Gawker Media to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Eventually, Denton sold his company to Univision in August for $135 million in cash. The sale included the firm’s various titles, such as Deadspin, Jezebel and Gizmodo and not Gawker.com, which subsequently shuttered.
“It’s a shame the Hogan trial took place without the motives of the plaintiff’s backer being known,” Denton said of Thiel. “If there is a lasting legacy from this experience, it should be a new awareness of the danger of dark money in litigation finance.”
Lawyers for Bollea released a terse statement on Wednesday afternoon, offering: “As with any negotiation for resolution, all parties have agreed it is time to move on.”