Hulk Hogan Settles With Gawker for $31 Million – ABC News
Settlement documents filed at a New York federal bankruptcy court stipulate that Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, will get $31 million plus share with other creditors 45 percent of any additional funds that come into the bankruptcy court by virtue of third-party claims brought by Gawker.
Hogan’s camp said in a statement: “After almost five years of litigation all parties agreed it was time to resolve this matter. This will allow people to go about their lives and concentrate on things more important than continued court proceedings. As in any case involving negotiation all parties give-and-take. We would like to thank everyone involved in the process.”
In a blog post on the settlement, Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, wrote: “After four years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached. The saga is over.”
This past March, a Florida jury awarded the former wrestler $140 million in damages after he sued the media company and its founder for invasion of privacy for publishing a portion of a sex tape that featured him. Immediately afterward, Gawker Media President and General Counsel Heather Dietrick said the jury was not privy to key facts and that she planned to file an appeal.
In May, Hogan sued Gawker again, this time for intentional infliction of emotional distress, accusing the company of “leaking a sealed transcript of surreptitiously recorded private oral communications in a bedroom to the media,” court documents state. Hogan claimed in the lawsuit that in 2015, the National Enquirer published a transcript from a 2007 video in which he used a racial slur, and that the information was at least in part furnished by Gawker. As a result of the publication, Hogan was fired by his employer, the World Wrestling Entertainment, he claimed.
Gawker released a statement at that time in response, calling the lawsuit “ridiculous” and denied it had leaked the transcript.
Later that month, however, new light was shed on Hogan’s litigious attitude toward Gawker, when PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel confirmed that he’d bankrolled the invasion of privacy lawsuit. Thiel, the subject of a 2007 article on the Gawker-owned website Valleywag entitled, “Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People,” told The New York Times that he wanted to protect those whom he felt had been unfairly targeted by Gawker.
“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” he told the newspaper. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”
In an open letter to Thiel posted on Gawker.com in May, Denton called him “twisted.”
“Among the million posts published by Gawker and other properties since the company was founded, there have undoubtedly been occasions we overstepped the line. In offsetting the fawning coverage of tech luminaries and others, sometimes our stories swing too far for my taste toward snark,” he wrote. “But this vindictive decade-long campaign is quite out of proportion to the hurt you claim.”
In June, Gawker Media declared bankruptcy, and in August, a number of its websites, including Jezebel and Gizmodo, were acquired by Univision for a reported $135 million, though the deal did not include the group’s flagship site, Gawker.com, which was shuttered. That same month, Denton filed for personal bankruptcy protection.
In the blog posted today, Denton explained the reason for the settlement. “Yes, we were confident the appeals court would reduce or eliminate the runaway Florida judgment against Gawker, the writer of the Hogan story and myself personally. And we expected to prevail in those other two lawsuits by clients of Charles Harder, the lawyer backed by Peter Thiel.
“But all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight. The Valley billionaire, famously relentless, had committed publicly to support Hulk Hogan beyond the appeal and ‘until his final victory.’ Gawker’s nemesis was not going away,” Denton continued.
“For Thiel, an investor in Facebook and Palantir, the cost of this exercise is less than 1% of his net worth and a little additional notoriety. The other protagonists?—?including Hulk Hogan and A.J. Daulerio, the author of the Gawker story about him?—?had much more at stake. That motivated a settlement that allows us all to move on, and focus on activities more productive than endless litigation. Life is short, for most of us.”