The US courts made a landmark ruling against Gawker this week, handing out almost $140 million in damages to Hulk Hogan, who had taken the website to court for breaching his privacy by posting a sex tape.
Gawker has responded today in a post on its website, saying the result is “extraordinary” and is “far larger than even the plaintiff himself had asked for in relief”.
According to Gawker, the post carried no advertising and did not create any sustained increase in traffic but the it was argued in court that it had increased Gawker’s brand value by $15m. The court decided $4.95 would be paid for each view of the video on Gawker’s website, as well as others, adding $35 million to the sum. Another $60m was added for emotional distress.
“We have had our day in trial court, and we lost. We will have our day back in appeals court, and we will be vindicated,” said founder Nick Denton in the post. He also claims that the court case was an attempt by Hogan to prevent any more tapes emerging, in which he says racist slurs.
“I had suspicions, but it is now clear that Hogan’s lawsuit was a calculated attempt to prevent Gawker, or anyone else who might obtain evidence of his racism, from publishing a truth more interesting and more damaging than a revelation about his sex life,” claims Denton.
The video, which depicted Hulk Hogan having a “sexual encounter with his best friend’s wife, Heather Cole”, was posted in 2012 and Gawker argues that it was newsworthy and therefore fair to publish. Hogan, however, said that neither himself nor Heather Cole were contacted ahead of publication and it therefore breached his privacy.
Denton claims that evidence was withheld during the trial, including evidence that proves that Hulk Hogan knew he was being filmed. Gawker plans to appeal the case.