On Friday evening, it was announced that Hulk Hogan had run wild on Gawker and been awarded $115 million (£80m) in the trial over that infamous sex tape.
However, in classic pro-wrestling fashion, it looks like the story might not be quite finished yet. The gossip website may be about to make a dramatic comeback and could yet prevail in this bizarre case, Reuters reports.
Former pro-wrestling superstar Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) sued the website for posting a video clip in 2012 featuring him having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Told ya I was gonna slam another giant HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 19, 2016
Hogan’s legal team had argued that Gawker had violated Hogan’s privacy by posting the tape and ignored basic journalistic ethics by failing to contact him before clips of the tape were published.
Gawker’s lawyers, however, argued on the basis of the freedom of the press and how it was important to uphold that concept. Plus, they pointed out, Hogan wasn’t exactly a private man and claimed that Hogan’s own penchant for publicly describing his sex life in detail had made the sex tape fair game.
And, although the Florida jury awarded in favour of the disgraced wrestler, legal experts believe that the case could yet go Gawker’s way.
Speaking to Reuters, Mary-Rose Papandrea, a University of North Carolina law professor who previously represented the National Enquirer, said:
The jury’s decision is somewhat of a black box. It will be much more interesting and much more important as a legal issue to see what the appellate court says.
Clay Calvert, a professor of law and mass communications at the University of Florida, added that the size of the verdict was not surprising, because of the high profile nature of the case. However, he also expects the large verdict to be significantly lessened on appeal, if not reversed completely.
Juries generally do not like the media. The appellate court is a little more neutral.
It’ll certainly be fascinating to keep an eye on how this develops, as other outlets have questioned whether, if the $115m damages are upheld, it could spell the end for Gawker as a website entirely.