ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan has sued Gawker again, saying the gossip website leaked sealed court documents with a transcript that quoted him making racist remarks.
Hogan’s new lawsuit May 2 comes on the heels of winning a $140 million verdict against Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend’s wife. The three-week trial was a lurid inside look at the business of celebrity gossip and a debate over newsworthiness versus celebrity privacy.
Gawker denies that it leaked the sealed transcript to the National Enquirer. In the transcript, Hogan, who is white, makes several racist statements about his daughter’s ex-boyfriend, who is black. Once the Enquirer published the story, WWE severed its longtime ties with the famous wrestler.
The suit in Pinellas County Court also accuses a talent agent, two disc jockeys, a radio company and a lawyer of conspiring to send media outlets the sex tape and causing Hogan emotional distress and economic harm.
“Mr. Bollea said from the beginning that he would seek to hold all persons and entities fully responsible for their wrongful actions,” his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Traub, wrote in a statement. “This lawsuit seeks to do just that.”
The court filing was the latest chapter in a long legal saga for Hogan, Gawker and others.
“This is getting ridiculous,” Gawker wrote in a statement. “Hulk Hogan is a litigious celebrity abusing the court system to control his public image and media coverage. … It’s time for Hulk Hogan to take responsibility for his own words, because the only person who got Hulk Hogan fired from the WWE is Hulk Hogan.”
Hogan first sued Gawker after it posted a 2007 video of him having sex with Heather Clem, his then-best friend’s wife. Hogan said he didn’t know he was being taped by Bubba The Love Sponge Clem, a local Tampa DJ. During the Gawker trial, Hogan mournfully described how Clem betrayed his trust.
In March, a Pinellas County jury sided with Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, and awarded him $115 million in compensatory damages plus an added $25 million in punitive damages. Hogan is a county resident.
Gawker is seeking a new trial, saying the jury didn’t hear all of the evidence or from Clem.
The lawsuit also names Tampa radio DJs Mike “Cowhead” Calta and ex-DJ Matt “Spice Boy” Loyd, among others.
Hogan says Calta and Loyd wanted to cause him “substantial economic harm” while furthering their broadcasting careers while they worked at Cox Radio, which is also named in the suit. The radio station didn’t immediately return a telephone message.
Loyd, who no longer works for Cox, didn’t immediately respond to a Facebook message. A telephone number couldn’t immediately be located. Previously, Calta was part of Clem’s on-air coterie, but they had a falling out.