Los Angeles partner Adam Thurston was quoted in a Hollywood Reporter article titled, “Hulk Hogan on Sex-Tape Trial: ‘I’ll See This Through to the End.’” The article discussed Hulk Hogan’s decision to sue Gawker in 2012 over posting an excerpt of a secretly recorded sex tape on its website. On July 6, Hogan will be the first celebrity to bring a sex-tape scandal to trial before a jury.
Adam and other legal experts say that, typically, Gawker would have the upper hand in a case like this in light of the newsworthy nature of the subject, which received widespread coverage, and the strong First Amendment defenses available to publishers and news organizations. However, the Florida state court judge has consistently ruled in Hogan’s favor and refused to dismiss the case on summary judgment. As a result, Gawker now faces a jury trial, and the risk that the jury will be offended by Gawker’s publication of the tape, and will not appreciate the gravity of the First Amendment’s protection for freedom of the press. An adverse verdict against Gawker could leave it financially unable to continue its business unless outside investors provide an infusion of cash.
Adam commented on the fact that this is the first celebrity sex tape scandal to go to trial. “This whole dispute is remarkable,” he said. “I’m not aware of a celebrity sex tape case that has gone the full distance....When you have a friendly state court judge, she's going to let Hogan have a pretty free hand at trial.”