Hulk Hogan seeks second slam of Gawker over racist comments leak

Reuters News
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Posted: May 02, 2016 5:01 PM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Hulk Hogan accused Gawker of leaking his racist remarks in a lawsuit filed in Florida on Monday involving a secretly-recorded sex tape of the wrestling celebrity, who recently won $140 million in damages against the media website in a related case.

Hogan's new lawsuit said New York-based Gawker helped to make public a conversation from the consensual sexual encounter, which he says was recorded without his knowledge a decade ago.

After the racially-charged tirade was published last summer by the National Enquirer, Hogan was fired by World Wrestling Entertainment and lost endorsements that left his finances and reputation ruined, the lawsuit said.

It was released as Hogan battled Gawker in a separate lawsuit that drew wide attention as a test of a celebrity's privacy rights and press freedoms in the digital age.

In March, a six-person jury decided Gawker crossed a line by posting a video of Hogan's consensual tryst. The 2012 post of a one-minute, 41-second edited clip did not contain the racially inflammatory remarks.

Hogan was awarded $60 million for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages over the sex-tape release. The jury then slapped another $25 million in punitive damages on Gawker and its publisher and CEO, Nick Denton.

Gawker is challenging that decision and has denied involvement in the release of the racial comments, which were contained in sealed court documents from another related case.

"Gawker did not leak the information," the company said in a statement on Monday. "It's time for Hulk Hogan to take responsibility for his own words, because the only person who got Hulk Hogan fired from the WWE is Hulk Hogan."

Now the 62-year-old mustachioed wrestler, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, seeks unspecified damages in another jury trial in state court near his home on Florida's central Gulf Coast.

He contends that he was subjected to extortion attempts over release of the sex tape and his racial comments. The lawsuit filed on Monday names a number of individuals and companies in addition to Gawker, including Cox Radio and a talent agency, Don Buchwald and Associates.

Representatives for the companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Mr. Bollea said from the beginning that he would seek to hold all persons and entities fully responsible for their wrongful actions," Hogan's attorneys said in a statement. "This lawsuit seeks to do just that."

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Andrew Hay)