The four-year war
between Gawker Media and Hulk Hogan has come to an end after the media company
offered a settlement agreement with the former WWE star. However, the fight
between PayPal founder Peter Thiel and Gawker founder Nick Denton appears to be
far from over.
Denton and Gawker’s
lawyers sought to put an end to the long-running legal battle involving the
company and Terry Bollea, otherwise known as Hulk Hogan, with a $31 million
settlement offer. The deal was finalized after Denton filed the necessary documents
in a bankruptcy court in Manhattan, thereby reducing the initial amount from
approximately $140 million.
“After four years of
litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a
settlement has been reached. The saga is over,” wrote Denton
following the settlement offer the company made with Hogan.
However, the 66-page
agreement held provisions that allowed Denton to reserve the right to sue
Thiel. Throughout the legal drama with Hogan, it was discovered that the PayPal
founder bankrolled the lawsuit of the wrestling star to ensure that the lawsuit
continued and Gawker would presumably go bankrupt. Part of the settlement noted that
the gossip website intends to potentially pursue an investigation against Thiel
in an effort to uncover why he contributed $10 million toward Hogan’s lawsuit.
In the finalized version
of the agreement, it was stated that the Gawker debtors along with Denton,
Thiel, and Thiel Capital LLC intend to work on their issues amicably. While there
remains no update on the settlement talks between the opposing camps, the court
hopes to see a settlement agreement signed soon. Meanwhile, Hogan is no longer
involved in any future litigation involving the media company, Denton and
When news of the
settlement broke, the editors and writers of Gawker provided mixed reactions. For
some, it was a disappointing end to the fight they were all emotionally invested
to win. For others, it was a relief that the legal battle has finally ended.
Prior to the
settlement, Gawker had been preparing to bring the case to the appellate court
when a jury awarded Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million
in punitive damages in March. The company filed for
bankruptcy the same month.
The issue started when Hogan
filed a lawsuit against Gawker and members of its staff after the website
posted parts of a sex tape showing him with Heather Clem. In his complaint, the
wrestler stated that the story violated his privacy and infringed on his
personality rights. He further claimed that the company intentionally caused
him emotional distress. For its part, Gawker believed that backing down from
the lawsuit would mean sacrificing freedom of the press.
"It's obscene. (The settlement)
enshrines a disastrous precedent," said Gizmodo Media features editor Tom
Scocca via CNN Money.
Scocca added via CNN
Money, "It seems they perceived that the bankruptcy process was going to
be too costly and brutal for them to endure, but the price they paid in
principle and money amounts to complete destruction. Victory on appeal was the
thing that kept people going, and the surrender of that chance, certifying the
verdict of the show trial against us, is an unspeakably bitter result."