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Are Hulk Hogan's Lawyers Playing Shady Games in Gawker Cases?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on July 13, 2016 4:02 PM

A Florida jury earlier this year awarded former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan $140 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case against Gawker. The media company had published a sex tape of Hogan sleeping with his ex-best friend's wife and the former wrestler successfully alleged an invasion of privacy.

For a moment it seemed like Hogan was almost a hero of sorts, at least to those who agreed with the Florida jury. Now, however, the former wrestler and his lawyers are starting to seem shady as they continue their legal wrangling. Law Newz writes, "Hogan's lawyers are pulling some pretty sketchy moves in the Gawker case."

Shady Wrangling

Here is what got the law blog interested in digging into Hogan's legal filings. After that successful jury verdict and massive judgment was announced in the spring, it was revealed that Peter Thiel had sponsored Hulk Hogan's legal campaign against Gawker.

The Silicon Valley billionaire personally wanted revenge against the media company for outing him on one of their blogs years ago. Thiel's legal sponsorship put a different spin on a case that had seemed to be about Hulk Hogan's miffed dignity. Then, Hogan sued Gawker again, this time for leaking racist comments made on a different sex tape to the National Enquirer, which certainly made his seem less sympathetic.

Gawker Bankruptcy

Gawker filed for bankruptcy last month, alleging that the judgment in the privacy case made it impossible to continue as structured. Hogan last week filed documents in that Gawker bankruptcy proceeding, arguing that the media company never revealed to the Florida court in the invasion of privacy case that it would be forced to file bankruptcy. But that is patently not true, reports Law Newz.

Gawker's lawyers told the Florida court that the judgment would cause them "financial ruin" in a document seeking a stay (or halt). Hogan's subsequent claim in Gawker's bankruptcy case is based on the fact that Gawker did not use the word "bankruptcy" specifically, misleading the bankruptcy court about the nature of the information revealed in the invasion of privacy case. That false claim on Hogan's part is what got LawNewz digging, apparently.

Questionable Moves

The law blog "decided to do some digging to see if everything Hogan's lawyers did was on the up and up." Reportedly, everything was not.

It points out discrepancies in filings in different cases that indicate Hogan and his team are being disingenuous in the courts, although the blog has fallen short of calling their actions unethical. Law Newz writes, "Buried beneath motions and courtroom transcripts, what we found is a pattern of arguably questionable legal maneuvering by the Hogan side throughout much of the Hogan-Gawker saga."

That may seem obvious if you found Thiel's sponsorship of a vendetta case suspect. But with this report, Hogan and his team may start to feel more resistance from the media and the public about their coordinated takedown of Gawker.

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