Hulk Hogan Seeks Rematch With Gawker

     (CN) – Hulk Hogan stepped into the legal ring again with a new lawsuit targeting other leaked tapes that painted the professional wrestler as a racist and cost him his World Wrestling Entertainment career.
     Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, filed a 65-page complaint in Florida court alleging invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy and emotional distress. His new opponents: A radio company, a California-based attorney, a talent agency and two Tampa talk show hosts.
     Gawker Media, who lost an earlier court battle with Bollea, is also named.
     The suit stems from a sex tape obtained by Gawker in 2012. The website published portions of that tape showing Bollea having sex with Heather Cole, the former wife of shock jock and the wrestler’s then-best friend Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem.
     But the tape also included post-coitus conversations between Bollea and Cole, including a racially-charged rant against the former wrestler’s daughter’s boyfriend, who is black. Although Gawker did not publish information about that conversation, Bollea claims the website released a court-sealed transcript of the tape to the National Enquirer, which wrote a story about Bollea’s racist remarks in 2015. That story prompted the WWE to fire Bollea and wipe all traces of his name from their website and hall of fame.
     Bollea alleges the other defendants either facilitated the publishing of the sex tape contents on Gawker or used the tape as extortion.
     “Mr. Bollea said from the beginning that he would seek to hold all persons and entities fully responsible for their wrongful actions,” Bollea’s legal team said in a statement. “This lawsuit seeks to do just that.”
     According to the complaint, two radio personalities — Michael “Cowhead” Calta and Matt “Spice Boy” Loyd — conspired together with a talent agent and a California-based lawyer to cause “substantial economic harm to plaintiff, among others … while also furthering their own radio broadcasting careers.”
     Testimony from Bollea’s earlier lawsuit against Gawker showed Tony Burton, Calta’s talent agent, sent the 30-minute sex tape to the website, which created a 100-second highlight reel using the footage.
     Afterward, the lawsuit claims, those involved had California lawyer Keith Davidson approach Bollea’s lawyers and threaten to release more of the sex tape if the wrestler did not pay $1 million.
     Tampa Police Department investigated the alleged extortion but did not press charges. During a sting by the FBI, Davidson was arrested and the recordings seized.
     Later, Gawker filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI. Bollea claims this was to gain access to the tape transcripts. When a judge sealed those documents, the complaint states, Gawker leaked them to the National Enquirer. Minutes after the Enquirer posted the racially-charged transcript, Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio tweeted Bollea: “XOXOXO” and a link to the Enquirer’s post.
     “Based upon the timing and content of Daulerio’s tweet,” the complaint states, “Daulerio was aware, in advance, of the Enquirer‘s plans to publish the court-protected confidential transcript, and the harm that such publication would cause to plaintiff.”
     Why weren’t these allegations pursued in Bollea’s original 2012 complaint against Gawker? The wrestler’s lawyers maintain they didn’t know all of the facts.
     “Several of the claims arise out of acts that occurred after the discovery cutoff in the prior legal action,” Bollea’s legal team said in a statement. “Several facts, and certain of the defendants, did not become known to Bollea’s counsel until the release of the Tampa Police Report in November 2015 seven months after the discovery cutoff in the prior action.”
     Gawker, which is appealing an earlier lawsuit that awarded Bollea $140 million in damages, denies the accusations.
     “This is getting ridiculous,” Gawker said in a statement. “Hulk Hogan is a litigious celebrity abusing the court system to control his public image and media coverage.”
     “It was absurd enough that Hulk Hogan claimed $100 [million] for emotional distress and economic damage for a story about a sex life that he’d already made public,” the statement continues. “Now Hulk Hogan is blaming Gawker for racist remarks he made on another sex tape, which Gawker never had. As we’ve said before and are happy to say again: Gawker did not leak the information.”
     “It’s time for Hulk Hogan to take responsibility for his own words, because the only person who got Hulk Hogan fired from the WWE is Hulk Hogan,” Gawker said.

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