A Florida jury on Monday added another $25 million in punitive damages to the already whopping $115 million bill it hit Gawker Media with for the 2012 publication of a sex tape featuring Terry Bollea, better known as the former-wrestler Hulk Hogan. Of the $25 million, Gawker founder Nick Denton was found liable for $10 million; former editor at the site A.J. Daulerio was ordered to pay $100,000 for what the jury found to be Gawker’s violation of Bollea’s privacy.
The punitive damages come on the back of the $115 million award for Bollea, which breaks down to $55 million for economic injuries and $60 million for emotional distress. Bollea sued Gawker for publishing excerpts of a video that showed Bollea having sex with the wife of his best friend at the time.
Gawker has said it will appeal the verdict in a case that pitted privacy concerns versus press freedoms in the courtroom. Despite the size of the award, there is reason to believe the ruling will be overturned on appeal. Although not everyone is so sure. Aside from the grand constitutional principles (despite the decidedly low brow circumstances), the potential financial hit to Gawker could be fatal.
Here’s more from the Orlando Sentinel:
During closing arguments Monday, Hogan's lawyer Kenneth Turkel said Gawker Media's gross revenues in 2015 were $48.7 million and that founder Nick Denton has a total of $121 million, including a $3.6 million Manhattan condo. Gawker Media is worth $83 million, the lawyers said. A.J. Daulerio, the then-Gawker editor who wrote the post that accompanied the article and the person who decided to post the edited video, has no assets, the lawyers said. They said Daulerio has $27,000 in student loan debt. Turkel said the jury can decide on a punitive amount as both punishment to Gawker and a deterrent to other media companies.