Gawker hit with additional millions in punitive damages for Hulk Hogan video

Last Updated Mar 21, 2016 9:11 PM EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A jury has hit Gawker Media with $15 million in punitive damages and its owner with $10 million, adding to the $115 million it awarded last week for publishing a sex video of Hulk Hogan. The jury returned its decision Monday.

Moments after a Florida jury hit Gawker Media and its founder with $25 million in punitive damages for publishing a sex tape of Hogan, the former pro wrestler told a gaggle of reporters that he and his legal team "made history."

Hogan said Monday evening that he thought "we've protected a lot of people from going through what I went through."

The smiling 62-year-old, who wore all black throughout the three-week trial, added that he's been overwhelmed with support by fans.

"Everywhere I show up, people treat me like I'm still the champ," he said.

On Monday, the jury hit Gawker Media with a $15 million judgment and its owner, Nick Denton, with $10 million.

It also assessed $100,000 against A.J. Daulerio, the Gawker editor who decided to post the edited sex video and wrote the post that accompanied it.

The punitive damages come on top of $115 million the jury imposed Friday after two weeks of trial.

Hogan sued Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. Hogan said he didn't know he was being taped.

During brief arguments Monday, Gawker's lawyer pleaded that the Friday verdict is already "debilitating" for the company. Hogan's attorney said jurors were in a position to "send a message" and deter others.

Friday's $115 million award was for economic harm and emotional distress. Monday's award, in the words of Hogan attorney Kenneth Turkel, was to punish recklessness and to send a message to other media companies.

A statement from Gawker Monday evening reiterated that the media company is confident it will be vindicated during the appeals process.

"There is so much this jury deserved to know and, fortunately, that the appeals court does indeed know," Heather Dietrick, president and general counsel of Gawker Media, said in the statement. "So we are confident we will win this case ultimately based on not only on the law but also on the truth."


Hogan's lawyers released a statement Monday night. Hogan's real name is Terry Bollea.

"We are extremely happy with the verdict and Mr. Bollea feels vindicated," the statement read. "Our victory will also deter others from victimizing innocent people. This verdict now requires those organizations to respect privacy and if not pay the price for failing to do so."

During brief closing arguments Monday, Hogan's lawyer Turkel said Gawker Media's gross revenues in 2015 were $48.7 million and that founder Nick Denton has a total of $121 million, including a $3.6 million Manhattan condo. Gawker Media is worth $83 million, the lawyers said.

Daulerio, the editor, has no assets, the lawyers said. They said Daulerio has $27,000 in student loan debt.

Michael Sullivan, representing Gawker, said, "The $115 million judgment "is punishment enough" and "is already far beyond their means."

"The amount of that verdict could already be debilitating for Gawker Media," Sullivan said.

"Your verdict will send a chill down the spine of writers, producers and publishers," he added.

One juror, 35-year-old Salina Stevens, told reporters that watching the video posted by Gawker finally convinced her to find for Hogan.

"I believe his privacy was violated, and that's not OK," she said. "The video was worse than I expected ... not so much the sex part of it but the conversation. I just feel like if he knew he was being videotaped, he would not have spoken about the things he spoke about."