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Pro Wrestler Gets $115 Million in Invasion of Privacy Case

  • VOA News

Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, left, stands with attorney Seema Ghatnekar, in a courtroom in St. Petersburg, Fla., March 18, 2016. A jury awarded Hogan $115 million in an invasion of privacy case against Gawker Media.

Former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, left, stands with attorney Seema Ghatnekar, in a courtroom in St. Petersburg, Fla., March 18, 2016. A jury awarded Hogan $115 million in an invasion of privacy case against Gawker Media.

A jury in the U.S. southeastern state of Florida has ordered the gossip website Gawker to pay pro-wrestling star Hulk Hogan $115 million, ruling it should not have posted a secretly recorded video of Hogan having sex.

The jury announced its verdict Friday after a two-week civil trial.

Hogan, 62, argued that the 10-year-old video violated his privacy by showing him in an intimate situation with the wife of a friend. Hogan said the friend – a radio personality known as "Bubba the Love Sponge Clem" – recorded the video without Hogan's knowledge or consent.

The video was posted on the Gawker website, where Hogan's lawyer said it was viewed around 7 million times.

The defense argued Gawker was exercising the right to free speech. Defense attorneys said Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, has made himself a public figure and his sex life a public matter.

Despite that argument, the jury ruled in favor of Hogan's claim that the video violated his privacy and caused him harm.

The jury took only six hours to deliberate before reaching a verdict. Jurors were expected to return Monday to announce additional, punitive damages.

Gawker's legal team promised an appeal, where the award could be reduced.

U.S. standards for invasion of privacy differ, with greater stringency given to private citizens than to so-called public figures, or people such as entertainers or politicians who have chosen to be recognizable.

Analysts said the victory for Hogan was a win for privacy laws, protecting Hogan's right to privacy despite his fame.

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