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By Mike Johnson on 2012-10-19 12:27:14
A look at Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media in the United States District Court, Middle District, Tampa Division provides insight into why Hogan is suing, what his stance is on the entire situation and Gawker's reasoning for not pulling clips and a review of Hogan's sex tape with Heather Clem upon receipt of a cease and desist request.

Hogan is suing Gawker Media and several related companies (Gawker is based out of the Cayman Islands, while their subsidiaries are based in New York and incorporated in Delaware) as well as Blogwire Hungary (which owns the Gawker domain name), Gawker owner Nick Denton, AJ Daulerio (listed as the writer and/or editor of the Gawker article on the tape) and Kate Bennert (listed as the editor of the one minute highlight reel Gawker ran with the article).

Hogan is alleging that the defendants "engaged in intentional, outrageous, irresponsible and despicable conduct" by posting excerpts of the tape on 10/4.  The video is described as "the plaintiff engaged in private consensual sexual relations with a woman in a private bedroom."  They allege that the defendants posted the tape "for the purpose of obtaining tremendous financial benefit for themselves" through the sale of internet advertising and attracting "new viewers" to the site for its own long-term financial benefit. 

The lawsuit claims that Hogan "had no knowledge that the intimate activity depicted in the Video were being recorded.  To the contrary, the Plaintiff believed that such activity was completely private, and the Plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of his privacy in his intimate activities and reasonably believed that his privacy was safe and protected."  The suit claims that under Florida law, Hogan could not be taped and by releasing the tape, the defendants have violated his right to privacy.  It also alleges that the Defendants should have known that the video "contained private and confidential information" and that publication "would be offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities."

The lawsuit also alleges that the Defendants posting the video "constitutes a shameful and outrageous" invasion of Hogan's "right to privacy by a group of Loathsome Defendants who have no regard for human dignity and care only about maximizing their revenues and profits at the expense of all others."  It noted that the suit is necessary due to the refusal of Gawker to remove the tape despite repeated requests, that their "malicious conduct" violates Hogan's "constitutional and common law privacy rights, and exceeds all bounds of human decency."

The lawsuit noted that the tape was shot "six years ago" and the links leading to Gawker's website has resulted in "hundreds of millions of people" being exposed to the excerpts.  They are claiming that Gawker and the defendants have been "unjustly enriched" as a result of the views and the traffic and the benefits are a "direct result of the tremendous fame and goodwill of Plaintiff, and the public's interest in his life and activities."

The suit noted many of Hogan's career accomplishments as well as his "goodwill, reputation and brand" and that Hogan's commercial value has been "diminished" by the publication of the tape.  The suit claims that the defendants showed a "depraved disregard" for Hogan's privacy and rights by publishing the clips and the story that accompanied the video.  It noted that unless the court enjoins them from continuing, the Defendants will continue to publish, post, distribute and exploit the material.  "Such activity has caused and will continue to cause Plaintiff to suffer irreparable harm for which there is no adequate remedy at law."

The lawsuit also alleges that by publishing the video clips, the defendants have misappropriated Hogan's "publicity rights" and have brought "Intentional infliction of emotional distress" against Hogan.  The suit claims their "conduct was intentional and malicious and done for the purpose of causing, or was known by the Defendants to likely cause, Plaintiff humiliation, mental anguish and severe emotional distress and was done with the wanton and reckless disregard of the consequences of the Plaintiff", thus bringing Hogan "severe emotional distress, anxiety and worry."

The lawsuit claims that Hogan "has suffered injury, damage, loss, harm, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, shame and severe emotional distress."  The lawsuit says Hogan has and will be damaged to the amount of $100 million dollars as well of punitive damages.  They are also claiming that Hogan is "entitled" to recover all profits earned by the Defendants from the "unauthorized commercial exploitation" of the tape and that the court rule that all copies of the material, in whatever form they exist, be delivered to Hogan for destruction.  The lawsuit also requests and and all information regarding "all activity by person and persons and entities related" to the tape be given to Hogan.

A copy of the injunction requesting Gawker remove all the material from their website was also submitted to the court. 

While she is not listed in the lawsuit, a declaration by Hogan accompanying the injuction request states that the woman in the tape is Heather Clem.  In the declaration Hogan wrote, "I learned very recently that Ms. Clem and/or her ex-husband Bubba the Love Sponge Clem aka Todd Alan Clem, videotaped by sexual encounter with Ms. Clem, without my knowledge or permission.  I had a reasonable expectation of privacy at all times in connection with that sexual encouter with Ms. Clem."  Hogan also stated that, "The recording of the video without my knowledge, and the public posting and dissemination of the Video has completely flipped my life upside down, has rattled my current marriage, has been devastating to me and my family and has caused severe emotional distress."

The injunction request was accompanied by the Gawker article, additional media (including a New York Daily News article) on the publication of the tape, and correspondence between Hogan attorney David Houston and Gawker. In the correspondence, Houston offered not to pursue legal remedies if Gawker would remove the material and assist Hogan in pursuing his legal issues against those "shopping the tape around" by disclosing whatever information Gawker had in relation to their identity.    Houston used legal precedent of similar cases as an argument to remove the footage.

In response, Cameron Stratcher of Gawker's Litigation Counsel, wrote Houston on 10/9 that the video "depicts Mr. Bollea having sex with a married woman in the woman's home, under circumstances and in a place where he has no reasonable expectation of privacy (in fact there appears to be a surveillance camera in the bedroom from which the video is made).  Finally, the one minute clip shows very little sexual activity and is clearly newsworthy given the public interest in Mr. Bollea's marriage, divorce and his extra-marital activities."  Stratcher claimed that the video wasn't posted for "a commercial purpose (as the law defines it), is true and is newsworthy."   Stratcher also claimed in his response to Houston "Given the wide disclosure of the content of the video prior to publication, the content actually posted, and the newsworthiness of the video, there can be no claim for publication of private facts."  He then offered to publish any response Hogan wished to make to Gawker.  He also shot down Houston's legal arguments.

In court, however, none of the defendants have officially responded to the lawsuit.

A lawsuit against Bubba and Heather Clem for allegedly filming and distributing the tape of Hogan and Heather, is an entirely different legal case.

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