Jurors in Hulk Hogan v Gawker Trial Say They Made ‘Absolutely Correct’ Decision Awarding Hogan $140M

“They have no heart, no soul,” juror Kevin Kennedy said of Gawker.

March 24, 2016, 7:27 AM

— -- The six jurors who awarded Hulk Hogan more than $140 million in damages in his invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media, after the website posted a video of the former wrestler having sex, said they stand by their decision.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Linzie Janis that aired Thursday on “Good Morning America," the jurors -- Paula Eastman, Robin Young, Shane O’Neil, Salina Stevens, Kevin Kennedy and Shelby Adkins -- said they all believed Gawker broke the law.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that the decision we made was absolutely correct,” O’Neil said.

The breakdown of Hogan’s award is $55 million for economic damages, $60 million for emotional distress and $25.1 million in punitive damages.

“As human beings, we collectively said, you know ... if we were all in the same circumstances, how would we feel about it, and, emotionally, we would have all been really devastated,” Eastman said of the video’s release.

Asked whether Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, deserved less privacy because he is a celebrity, Adkins said: “No, he’s still a human being just like everyone else, no matter how many people know his name and his face.”

Asked whether any of them thought Hogan may have been responsible for setting up the recording, Kennedy said, “Even if he knew he was being recorded, there’s still no right to put that out there if he doesn’t want it put out.”

The jurors told Janis when they watched the nearly two-minute excerpt of the tape during deliberations, they all felt it was clear Hogan did not know he was being filmed.

"He didn’t know that there was a video going on," Young said.

"Definitely not," O'Neil concurred.

Gawker argued that the website's post with the video was newsworthy under the First Amendment, which protects journalists.

“They did something illegal,” Young claimed, referring to Gawker.

"If Hulk Hogan and his lawyers had asked them to take the post down and the verbage, it would have been a First Amendment issue," Eastman said. "We would have sided with Gawker, for sure, but it just wasn't the case."

"They asked him to take the video down which was a privacy act," she said. "It was very clear to me."

Added O’Neil: “Gawker made it clear to everyone ... that they were all about crossing the line.”

O'Neil also said the group hoped to send a message with the multimillion dollar verdict.

"It just wasn’t about punishment of these individuals and Gawker," he said. "You had to do it enough where it makes an example in society and other media organizations ... and we had to take that into consideration."

The jurors had strong words for Gawker founder Nick Denton and the website's former editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, who was ordered in the verdict to pay Hogan $100,000 in punitive damages.

"I mean there was a quote in there that it was fair game for a celebrity that’s over five to be exposed, and we’re like, 'What?,' and this was a quote from A.J.," O'Neil said. "You could tell he didn’t want to be there. He was very arrogant, very pompous in his response and he made that statement at the end."

"I think it made everybody, it made me pause, and I was just like, 'You did not say that,'" he said. "That means you really do think you’re above the law and it was that philosophy, we’re Gawker. We can get away with anything."

"He treated the deposition the way he treats journalism," Young said, while Eastman called Daulerio, "very flippant."

Stevens said she was looking at Denton in court while the verdict was being read because she wanted to see whether he would show any signs of remorse. She didn’t believe he displayed any remorse during his testimony.

Asked what they would say to Denton if they had five minutes with him, Young said she would tell him: “'Don’t demean yourself by going for the vulgar and the lewd and the trashy. Stick to the newsworthy journalism -- you understand what that is.'”

"He’s enjoying being a bad boy," Young said of Denton. "He basically said that if you’re on Facebook, you’re a public figure, so everybody needs to check their privacy settings."

Kennedy said he would tell Denton: “'Put yourself in their shoes, if you have the ability to do that,'” before saying, “I don’t even know if they even have the heart to be able to do that. It’s just amazing, everything I listened to, that they have no heart. No soul. It’s all about the almighty dollar, and it’s sick.”

Jurors said they believe an individual’s right to privacy lies at the heart of the case, regardless of celebrity.

In a statement after this week's verdict, Gawker’s General Counsel, Heather Dietrick, said, "Soon after Hulk Hogan brought his original lawsuits in 2012, three state appeals court judges and a federal judge repeatedly ruled that Gawker's post was newsworthy under the First Amendment. We expect that to happen again -- particularly because the jury was prohibited from knowing about these court rulings in favor of Gawker, prohibited from seeing critical evidence gathered by the FBI and prohibited from hearing from the most important witness, Bubba Clem.”

Asked how they would feel if their decision was overturned on appeal, Young replied: “We drew a line, and we hope others will draw a line.”

Eastman said, “I hope [Hogan] fights it all the way for all of us.”

Added O’Neil: “I think he’ll win.”

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