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Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker Trial Aftermath – June 2016
Week of June 13 Updates
– June 17 Update: Regarding the second lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan against Gawker, the case has officially been put on hold pending the outcome of Gawker’s bankruptcy proceedings.
A note was made on Friday (June 17) that the Pinellas County Civil Circuit Court is “prevented from any action in this appeal due to the automatic stay provision of bankruptcy.”
Gawker filed a fresh appeal of the second lawsuit last week (June 7). The appeals court in Florida was given notice of the bankruptcy proceedings on Tuesday (June 14), leading to the case ordered to be placed on hold at the civil court level.
A status report on the proceedings is due by October 15 – in four months.
– June 15 Florida Update: Regarding the first lawsuit with the $140 million judgment against Gawker, a case management & status conference has been scheduled for July 6 at 9:00 a.m. at the Florida circuit court.
This follows Gawker, Nick Denton, and A.J. Daulerio filing individual appeals last Friday (June 10). The circuit court received a letter from the appeals court, prompting the meeting in July to discuss status.
Last week, Judge Pamela Campbell upheld the jury’s $140 million award to Hogan, offering a final judgment in the original case. Gawker, et al, are appealing the ruling.
Legal representatives for Hogan’s side and Gawker’s side met in New York’s Southern District Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday (June 15) to hash out the terms of the bankruptcy proceedings brought on by Hogan’s $140 million judgment in Florida court.
The result was Judge Stuart Bernstein asking for a cooling-off period or a “complete standstill” on litigation until the next bankruptcy court hearing in July.
PWTorch obtained the documents detailing Gawker’s bankruptcy filings recorded last Friday (June 10) and on Sunday (June 12).
Hogan is listed as one of several creditors in Gawker’s multiple bankruptcy filings. (Gawker has several subsidiary companies that also filed for bankruptcy.)
Gawker also filed court documents in the Plaintiffs’s role against Hogan and the other creditors as the defendants, seeking relief from the claims because of a claimed “dispute” over the merits of the cases.
This ties back to Gawker currently appealing both of Hogan’s lawsuits. Gawker is seeking time to delay the bankruptcy proceedings, pursue the appeals, complete a sale of the company, and continue operations paying employees for ongoing services.
Bloomberg reports that Gawker owes, in total, about $169 million in lawsuit judgments from Hogan and the other creditors listed.
As of right now, Gawker is “shielded from pending lawsuits while under chapter 11 protection,” reports the Journal. WSJ added: “The media company is also hoping to shield Mr. Denton, Executive Editor John Cook, former Gawker.com Editor in Chief A.J. Daulerio and several current and former writers – all of whom are targets of pending litigation related to Gawker articles – from facing any of the lawsuits, at least while the company pursues a bankruptcy-court supervised sale process.”
The bankruptcy documents obtained by PWTorch include a note that Gawker made revenue of $49.9 million in 2015. The company’s various websites, including Deadspin, have 90 million readers (with 50 million in the U.S.). The general age range of readers is 18-34-years-old.
Gawker also noted their specific legal standing with Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) pertaining to Florida court rulings: “The bond to stay execution of the judgments pending appeal is $50 million for each of the Bollea litigation defendants. The court has refused to reduce the cash bond and denied Gawker Media’s request to post stock or alternative collateral in lieu of the bonds. As of June 10, 2016, the judgments in the Bollea Litigation became available for execution.”
June 13 Update: Gawker asked a U.S. bankruptcy court for permission to borrow up to $22 million as it goes through the process of being sold to an investor, reports the Globe & Mail.
Gawker, which declared bankruptcy on Friday (June 10), is appealing the $140 million judgment that was upheld by Judge Pamela Campbell in Florida court on Friday.
Gawker now has a potential buyer in publisher Ziff Davis, which reportedly entered an agreement to buy Gawker for about $90 million. However, there will still be a court room auction in July to purchase the company.
Gawker is seeking permission to borrow the $22 million loan from Cerberus Capital Management to keep the company going through the sale and bankruptcy process.
– The appeals process continues with Gawker officially giving notice of appeal to the Circuit Court in Florida, where Judge Campbell upheld the $140 million verdict.
Parties Gawker Media, LLC, Nick Denton, and A.J. Daulerio gave notice of appeal to the court on Friday (June 10) after Judge Campbell entered the Final Judgment in the case.
The new appeal was filed Friday and acknowledged by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals.
On Tuesday (June 14), Gawker’s attorney, Gregg D. Thomas, officially filed a “suggestion of bankruptcy” with the appeals court.
– Regarding the second lawsuit filed by Hogan against Gawker alleging that the website leaked confidential content from the first lawsuit, Gawker is already appealing the case.
Gawker filed a fresh appeal on June 7 related to the second lawsuit. The appeals court set a deadline of June 29 for the case to proceed.
Gawker also filed the same suggestion of bankruptcy on Tuesday with the appeal of the second lawsuit.
June 10 Update: A court hearing was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Friday morning, where Judge Pamela Campbell granted Gawker’s motion to postpone the $140 million judgment granted to Hulk Hogan.
The postponement was to allow Gawker to go through the appeals process attempting to over-turn or reduce the judgment, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Judge Campbell ordered Gawker put up shares of the company as security until the appeals court reviews the case. Gawker founder Nick Denton is pledging about 45 million shares (30 percent of Gawker’s total).
Gawker has also declared bankruptcy, reports the Wall Street Journal and Deadline, and the company is being auctioned. Gawker’s attorneys argued in court Friday that Gawker faces “certain financial ruling” if forced to pay the full judgment.
Regarding the fresh appeal filed by Gawker on Tuesday (June 7), the next key date is June 29.