Gawker Maneuvers for Hulk Hogan Rematch


     (CN) – Gawker is seeking a rematch with Hulk Hogan just weeks after the former wrestler was awarded $140 million in damages in an invasion of privacy case.
     The gossip website filed two motions in Florida court asking for a retrial or drastic reduction in the amount of damages awarded to Hogan.
     “Gawker is now beginning the process of challenging the jury’s verdict in a trial where key evidence was wrongly withheld and the jury was not properly instructed on the Constitutional standards for newsworthiness,” Gawker said in a statement. “So we expect to be fully vindicated. And even if the verdict were to stand, there is no justification for awarding ten of millions of dollars never seen by victims of death and serious injuries.”
     Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, sued Gawker in 2012 for publishing portions of a sex tape between the wrestler and the former wife of his best friend, shock jock Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem.
     Gawker always maintained the First Amendment protected the website post, because Bollea talked about his sex life publicly in interviews.
     Last month, a six-person jury sided with Bollea, awarding him $115 million in compensatory damages and $25.1 million in punitive damages.
     In its two motions, Gawker argues the verdict was “the product of passion and prejudice.”
     Citing several earlier cases – including one involving the sex tape featuring actress Pamela Anderson and musician Tommy Lee Gawker argues the video became a matter of public concern, protected by the First Amendment and shielding the website from punitive damages.
     “Applying these same principles, courts have regularly found that images of sex or nudity, when connected to an ongoing public discussion or controversy, relate to matters of public concern even though they involve conduct that in other circumstances would generally be considered private,” the motion states.
     In addition, Gawker attacks the amount of damages for emotional distress: “The jury’s award of $60 million in emotional distress damages is 7.5 times the amount courts have deemed excessive in cases involving far more severe injuries, such as permanent disfigurement or death.”
     If the entire judgment is not thrown out, Gawker requests a reduction to $1.8 million.
     
     The motions also criticize Judge Pamela Campbell’s decision to not order the man who taped the sexual episode – Bubba Clem – to testify and her refusal to allow the jury to see unsealed documents from a FBI investigation into the sex tape.
     Campbell consistently ruled against Gawker before and during the trial on these points. Gawker has made it clear they intend to take the case to appellate court if Judge Campbell does not approve the motions.
     The next hearing in the case is set for May.
     In a statement of its own, Hogan’s legal team said “We emerged victorious once and we plan to do so again.”
     “It is apparent Gawker is unable to accept responsibility for their actions or demonstrate any intention of correcting their behavior,” the statement said.

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