Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Gawker and Hulk Hogan Reach $31 Million Settlement

Big news from the world of media as Hulk Hogan finally settled his invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker, putting an end to a case that could have dragged on for even more years in appeals courts. Hogan agreed to accept a portion of the $140 million judgment he won against Gawker and its CEO and founder, Nick Denton, over the publication of a sex tape he was featured in. (The verdict pushed the company to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.) While I have long argued that Gawker was the bully who showed up to the playground only to discover its prey had brought a bigger kid along for backup, and that Hogan had a right to sue over this blog post, the fact that Gawker -- and Denton -- chose to settle a case for $31 million that many feel they could have eventually won on appeal shows just how dangerous it is to have a vindictive billionaire bankrolling a lawsuit, which can cost defendants millions of dollars and force them to relent even if they believe they are in the right. While this is a case of pox on both parties' houses, I hope more than anything that Denton can find a way to revive Gawker and that Thiel develops some thicker skin.

In a blog post, Denton, who was also found liable by a Florida jury for $10 million in damages in the case and filed for personal bankruptcy, said: “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.”

 Earlier this week, Thiel said at a panel discussion in Washington that he had decided to back Hogan's case against what he called a “singularly sociopathic bully” because ”single-digit millionaires” have “no effective access to our legal system.” (!)

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