Gawker Media got hit with $25.1 million in punitive damages in its privacy lawsuit against Terry Bollea on Monday evening. The reward was heaped on top of the $115 million of compensatory damages rewarded to Bollea also known as Hulk Hogan by a St. Petersburg, Fla., jury on Friday.
The six-person jury said Gawker owed $15 million in punitive damages and the company’s publisher and chief executive Nick Denton owes $10 million. Earlier Monday, Denton’s net worth was revealed to be $121 million.
Bollea sued the Web site for publishing a clip in 2012 of him having sex with the wife of his then-best friend Todd Clem known as “Bubba The Love Sponge.” A.J. Daulerio, the Gawker editor who was responsible for the story, was slapped with $100,000 in punitive damages.
One point at issue during the trial is that Todd Clem was never made to testify. Gawker also fought to release papers from a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe related to the suit for jury review. Those papers were unsealed but not shown to the jury.
Gawker has indicated that it would file an appeal. According to reports, the embattled media company may have to post as much as a $50 million bond during the appeal, as indicated by Florida law, though the company will likely argue to reduce that amount.
Following Monday’s verdict, Gawker president and general counsel Heather Dietrick offered:
“Soon after Hulk Hogan brought his original lawsuits in 2012, three state appeals court judges and a federal judge repeatedly ruled that Gawker’s post was newsworthy under the First Amendment. We expect that to happen again — particularly because the jury was prohibited from knowing about these court rulings in favor of Gawker, prohibited from seeing critical evidence gathered by the FBI and prohibited from hearing from the most important witness, Bubba Clem.
“Didn’t the jury deserve to know that Bubba told his radio listeners and then the FBI, in a meeting where lying is a criminal offense, that Hulk Hogan knew he was making a sex tape? Didn’t the jury deserve to know the FBI uncovered multiple tapes of Hulk Hogan having sex with Bubba’s wife? Didn’t the jury deserve to know about the text messages Hulk Hogan sent to Bubba that undermine this case?
“There is so much this jury deserved to know and, fortunately, that the appeals court does indeed know. So we are confident we will win this case ultimately based on not only on the law but also on the truth.”