A jury has sided with Hulk Hogan in his sex tape lawsuit against Gawker Media and awarded the former professional wrestler $115 million in damages.
The jury deliberated for about six hours before reaching its decision around 7 p.m. Friday.
Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, released the following statement after the jury's decision: "Given key evidence and the most important witness were both improperly withheld from this jury, we all knew the appeals court will need to resolve the case. I want to thank our lawyers for their outstanding work and am confident that we would have prevailed at trial if we had been allowed to present the full case to the jury. That's why we feel very positive about the appeal that we have already begun preparing, as we expect to win this case ultimately."
The Boellea team released the following statement after the jury's decision: "We're exceptionally happy with the verdict. We think it represents a statement as to the public's disgust with the invasion of privacy disguised as journalism. The verdict says no more."
Just before the jury reached its verdict, Gawker released a treasure trove of documents revealing an investigation by the FBI. The documents included heavily redacted papers and handwritten notes that alluded to the fact that Hogan knew he was being recorded and that the camera was in plain view.
The jury wasn't given access to those documents.
Hogan's defense in the case was that he didn't know his privacy was violated.
Lawyers for both Gawker and Hogan gave their closing arguments Friday morning, and then the jury made up of two men and four women began deliberating around 1 p.m.
Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, sued Gawker for $100 million for invasion of privacy after the website posted a portion of a sex video showing him with the wife of his former best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
The video at the center of the case was never played for the jury during the two-week-long trial, something Gawker's attorney, Michael Sullivan, pointed out to the jurors.
"Now ask yourself, Why did they not show you that video?" Sullivan said. "The video that is the reason that we are all here because that video does not show all that much. Nine seconds of sexual activity. Dark, grainy video. That's it."
Hogan's attorney, Kenneth Turkel, said he didn't want anybody to see the video and pointed his finger back at Gawker.
"Why didn't the guy who's protecting the First Amendment play the video they're so proud of in court?" Turkel said. "They're the ones who say free information and everybody find out."
Hogan said he had no idea his former best friend, Bubba, had set up a camera in his bedroom that was hidden behind a motion detector.
But, Sullivan asked the jury if the entire case could be a publicity stunt between Bubba and Hogan.
Judge Pamela Campbell ruled Bubba didn't have to testify in the case.
Turkel said Gawker should have never published a third-party video that shows a private moment.
"Reasonable people in a civilized society don't take secretly recorded sex tapes from a private bedroom and send them out to the world," Turkel said.
Gawker said Hogan talked publicly about his sex life, claiming it was fair game for journalists and that First Amendment right to free speech could be eroded.
"We will become a nation where powerful celebrities, politicians and public figures will use our courts to punish people for saying things that they frankly do not like," Sullivan said.
Jurors will report back to court Monday to decide punitive damages.