Bollea broke down in tears as the verdict was read out loud. He sued the media company, claiming that it violated his right to privacy when it posted a tape of him having sex with his then-best friend’s wife, Heather Clem. Bollea claimed that he was filmed without his knowledge.
In 2012, the 30-minute sex tape was leaked to Gawker, which edited it down to one minute and 41 seconds. Then-editor A.J. Daulerio posted the clip with a story describing the act. Bollea’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to Gawker, which refused to take down the post, claiming it had a First Amendment right to do so.
Jurors listened to lawyers from both sides give their closing statements on Friday. Following the three hours of statements, Gawker sent out a statement indicating it would appeal should it lose the trial.
The jury took roughly six hours to turn in a verdict in favor of Bollea, who sued for $100 million. Daulerio and Gawker founder Nick Denton sat motionless, while Bollea sniffled, as he choked back tears.
The jury awarded Bollea $15 million more, and according to reports, the former WWE wrestler could get more in punitive damages.
Following the verdict, a representative from Gawker sent out a statement from Denton, which read:
“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. 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.”