Hulk Hogan’s Biggest Win: $115M in Gawker Sex Tape Verdict

Retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan won a $115 Million jury verdict against Gawker Media and its executives on March 18, 2016.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, alleged Gawker invaded his privacy by posting a sex tape on its news and gossip website.

The tape showed Hogan, who was married at the time, having sex with his friend’s wife.

The friend was Todd Clem, a Florida radio host. Clem’s wife, Heather Cole, testified at trial that she was in an “open marriage” with Clem at the time.

Both Hogan and Clem have since been divorced.

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Hulk Hogan's Sex Tape Privacy Lawsuit


Invasion of Privacy

Hulk Hogan’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker alleged the popular media outlet violated his rights by publicly releasing the tape.

Hogan and Heather Cole both testified at trial they were unaware that they were being filmed.

It is believed that Todd Clem secretly recorded the tryst, but it is uncertain he is the person that leaked it to Gawker.

Regardless of how the tape was made, and how it was obtained by Gawker, Hogan’s attorneys proved that Gawker lacked permission from either Hogan or Cole to release the tape.

The tape, which included private conversations between Hogan and Cole, did not contain newsworthy content or other journalistic merit. It was aired by Gawker solely for profit.

Further, Gawker failed to remove the video from its website following Hogan’s initial demand.

Hulk Hogan’s Knockout Win

The Florida jury awarded a verdict of $55 Million for lost earnings, plus an additional $60 Million for emotional distress. The total award of $115 Million could be increased by the Court after a hearing on whether punitive damages are warranted.

Gawker and its executives have pledged to appeal the verdict. The media defendants argued the judge erred in refusing to allow certain witness testimony.

The case appears to reflect recent public sentiment against an aggressively nosy news media and in favor of individual privacy rights. As more and more of people’s daily lives are memorialized online, a consensus has been established that private sexual relations lack journalistic merit and do not belong in the public domain.

About NYC Injury Attorneys

Michael Hurwitz, Esq. is the managing member of The Hurwitz Law Firm, PC, and is a personal injury attorney representing accident victims in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and throughout the New York City region.