The world knows him as Hulk Hogan, but his real name is Terry Bollea and his lawyers are saying that the website Gawker was basically going for Hulk’s jugular vein when posting a clip of Hogan in a very private sexual act. Hogan’s lawyers claim that Gawker “intended to harm the former professional wrestler” when they posted a sex tape clip online for the public to see, one that Hogan did not know existed.
According to MSN News on March 7, lawyer Shane Vogt, who is in court with Hogan today addressed the jury and said that the website was motivated by “power and brand promotion at Hogan’s expense.” This is the start of a civil trial brought forth by Hogan. This case is unusual as it is basically looking for the court, or jury, to define a celebrity’s privacy rights.
The tape was secretly recorded and not by Hogan, who had no idea there was a secret camera planted while having sex with the wife of a close friend. That friend is now Hogan’s ex-best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. Hogan is looking for damages to the tune of $100 million from Gawker for posting this 2-minute sex tape online. This caused him and his family much embarrassment.
CNN News reports that Gawker is live-streaming the proceedings of this court case. Is this possibly another attempt at cashing in by pulling in the viewers? Gawker’s executive editor, John Cook, calls this trial an “important news and First Amendment event,” so the live streaming will capture what may be history in the making.
“This is a momentous First Amendment case that should be of intense interest to anyone who cares about the media business,” Cook said in an email to CNN Money. “Our lawyers are making important arguments in the courtroom as we speak, and we think some of our readers might like to hear them.”
Hogan’s lawyer told the jury that they will hear from the retired pro wrestler and that he will tell them how he has made mistakes in life, including this extramarital affair. Putting mistakes in life aside, Hogan believes that he had the right to expect that he was having sex inside that private bedroom without being on camera. He believes no one had any right to video tape the event and put it online. The former pro-wrestler is expected to take the stand as the first witness in the case.
On the other hand, “Gawker argues that its 2012 [sex tape] post is protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and contends it was reporting on a celebrity who publicly discussed his sex life,” reports MSN.
If Gawker loses this case and Hogan gets what he is asking for this could quite possibly put Gawker out of business. If Gawker does lose, they plan to appeal, which is what one of the lawyers for Gawker conveyed to the media. This trial is taking place in a St. Petersburg, Florida, courtroom. This court is located in the same county where Hogan lives.