Gawker Media and former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan have reached a settlement after years of litigation in an invasion of privacy lawsuit.
“The saga is over,” Gawker founder Nick Denton wrote in a blog post.
Back in March, a Florida jury awarded $140 million to Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, in the case that centered on Gawker’s publication of a sex tape featuring Bollea and a former friend’s wife. As NPR’s David Folkenflik reported, the verdict against Gawker and its founder “forced both to go into bankruptcy and the company to be put up for sale at a court-overseen auction.”
Now, according to a document filed in a New York bankruptcy court on Wednesday, the parties have reached a settlement where Bollea will receive $31 million in cash plus a share of the proceeds from the sale of Gawker.
Gawker will now “forgo its appeal of that judgement” from March, as The New York Times reported.
And in what Denton refers to as “the most unpalatable part of the deal,” he said three stories will be removed from the Internet, one of which involves Hogan.
Bollea’s case against Gawker was bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, whom Gawker outed as gay back in 2007, as David reported. He added that “Thiel acknowledged he had subsidized other lawsuits against Gawker and would do so indefinitely.”
Denton explained the decision to settle:
“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.”
“As with any negotiation for resolution, all parties have agreed it is time to move on,” Bollea’s lawyer David Houston said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
The Bollea case raised major questions about freedom of expression and privacy, as The Two-Way has reported. Gawker argued during the trial that it had the right to publish news that is true and that it obtained legitimately, while Bollea characterized the tape’s publication as a harmful breach of his privacy.