Presiding judge Pamela Campbell wrote in her judgment: “The fact that people, even celebrities talk about their sex lives or make private recordings of themselves naked or having sex in the privacy of a bedroom, does not give the public the right to watch that person naked having sex without the person’s consent.”
The permanent injunction follows a $140.1 million verdict delivered in March by a Pinellas County, Fla. jury in favor of Bollea. The jury found that Gawker violated Bollea’s right to privacy when it posted a clip of the former WWE wrestler having sex with his then-friend’s wife, Heather Clem. Bollea claimed the video was taken without his knowledge; Gawker insisted it had a First Amendment right to publish the tape, which it edited down from 30 minutes to about 2 minutes.
The hefty verdict included $25.1 million in punitive damages, $10 million of which is to come directly out of the pocket of Gawker Media founder and chief executive officer Nick Denton, and $100,000 to come from A.J. Daulerio, who edited Gawker.com when it published the clip in 2012, was finalized by the judge.
According to court papers, the damages carry an interest rate of 4.78 percent per year. During the trial, lawyers for Gawker noted that the large verdict is “far beyond the means” of the company. Gawker quickly put in an appeal after the judge denied its request to reduce the damages.
In recent weeks, it has also come to light that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been bankrolling the lawsuit against Gawker. Gawker has written about Thiel in the past, publicizing the fact that he is a gay man.
Strapped for cash, sources believe that Gawker Media, which operates sites such as Jezebel, Deadspin and Gizmodo, will likely file for bankruptcy and seek a stalking horse bidder, who may sell off its assets.