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Hulk Hogan Settlement Lets Gawker Go After Peter Thiel in Bankruptcy Court


Hulk Hogan (Pool Photo)A new filing in bankruptcy court appears to allow Gawker to continue its efforts to investigate and potentially go after Peter Thiel, the billionaire who funded Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against the blog company. On Wednesday, in preparation for a Thursday hearing, a number of new items were filed, one of which is a plan that includes the $31 million settlement agreement between Gawker and Hogan in his invasion of privacy lawsuit (funded by Thiel). The settlement includes a provision that keeps the door open for Gawker to use bankruptcy laws to look into Thiel, but there are also some hurdles that severely complicate the matter.

As LawNewz initially reported in October, Gawker had moved to have Thiel as well as Hogan’s lead attorney, Charles Harder investigated for interfering with the bankruptcy proceedings. The settlement agreement appears to say that after Hogan is paid, Gawker can continue to investigate Thiel via the bankruptcy court, but if that happens, Gawker would not be able to pursue any kind of discovery from or about Hogan.

Harder’s other two clients who settled,  Ashley Terrill and Shiva Ayyadurai, have nearly identical clauses in their agreements. The last page of Hogan’s settlement does include a note that says “The Parties will cooperate and work in good faith to facilitate an agreement between The Gawker Debtors, Nick Denton, Peter Thiel, and Thiel Capital, LLC.”

Other terms outlined in the settlement include:

  • Within seven days of payment, A.J. Daulerio’s article giving a play by play of the sex tape must be removed. The edited video itself had already been removed in 2013. In the four years since it was posted, Daulerio’s article was mirrored by a number of internet archive sites in addition to being filed as a public record in the lawsuit.
  • Hogan gets the rights to the Daulerio article.
  • All copies of the edited video, the full 30 minute sex tape, any other excerpts, “any written transcripts, summaries, audio recordings or other recordings of said recordings of” Hogan that were secretly recorded in the bedroom of Bubba Clem and Heather Cole must be delivered to Hogan and then deleted. This includes a number of items filed as public record in the lawsuit.
  • Gawker will assist Hogan in coming to a settlement with Daulerio, who is still on the hook for $100,000 in punitive damages, and Gawker founder Nick Denton, who owes $10 million and is currently in his own personal bankruptcy proceedings.
  • If is sold, it cannot be to “Denton or any other insider of the Gawker debtors” without Hogan’s permission.

[Photo: Pool Photo]

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David Bixenspan is a writer, editor, and podcaster based in New York.