Gawker Media files for bankruptcy

Faced with a $140 million verdict from a Florida jury over its publication of a sex tape including wrestler Hulk Hogan, Gawker Media has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy [CNN Money] Forbes profiles a boutique law firm that with Thiel’s help has made suing Gawker its “bread and butter.” Nick Lemann notes that the “uniquely legally privileged position of the American press” dates back to the period of New York Times v. Sullivan and some other pro-press decisions, and may be up for rethinking in public opinion “at a moment when the press is far more vulnerable, economically and culturally, than it used to be.” [New Yorker] My recent posts on Gawker, Peter Thiel, and paying others to sue are here, here, and here.


  • It’s really sad to me how a blog like this, which ordinarily supports individual rights over media hysteria, has jumped on the pro-Gawker bandwagon.

    Do you think it was appropriate for Gawker to publish secretly taped intimate moments of Hogan? The invasion of privacy tort has been around for a long, long time and is as consistent with the First Amendment as libel laws.

    But if you think that Gawker behave tortiously against Hogan, then why shouldn’t Hogan have the right to legal redress? It happens to be extraordinarily expensive for an individual to sue a deep-pocketed media organization like Gawker over invasion of privacy. Hogan couldn’t afford it, so there isn’t anything wrong if other parties help fund the suit.

    This is not improper champerty because the underlying action was meritorious, and indeed plaintiff prevailed at trial.

    Something about this blog’s stance on this leaves a viscerally bad taste in my mouth in the way that other disagreements do not, because you’re attacking (or joining in on the attack) of completely innocent individuals who’ve been wronged by Gawker and are now being mobbed by organizations who are far more openly contemptuous of individual rights and dignity than you are. We have all seen the 2 minutes of hate movements deployed against conservatives and libertarians. But I’ve never seen this blog join in one of those movements before.

  • asdfasdf — You are in error in thinking that I have “jumped on the pro-Gawker bandwagon.”

    You are in error in imagining that I have asserted that “it was appropriate for Gawker to publish,” especially when on Mar. 19 I described its decision to do so as “willful misconduct.”

    You are in error when you imagine that champerty can never be open to ethical concern unless an underlying action is unmeritorious. That is an erroneous reading of the history, which banned champerty in fully meritorious cases, and it is an error as applied to present history. To take one obvious ethical concern, but not the only one, meritorious cases can be prosecuted so as to inflict maximum cost and damage on a defendant.

    You are not a very close reader to have missed my various descriptions of Gawker as “notoriously scurrilous” (Mar. 19) and “widely loathed” (May 25), or my observation that “While at some point a civil litigant was bound to catch up with the notoriously scurrilous media outfit, the question now is whether other, better media outfits need to worry too.” (March 19)

    You accuse me of “joining in on the attack” of “completely innocent individuals who’ve been wronged by Gawker.” Since this is a serious accusation against me, please provide examples and names of such persons (Hogan? Thiel?) so that I can consider retracting such statements and apologizing to those persons.

  • From the site’s original self-description: explores an American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public’s expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability.

    (See the “About” tab)

    I’ve been reading Overlawyered for a long time. Unless Walter comes out and takes an explicit position, I would not read any particular position being taken here. Much about this trial is newsworthy for a blog about the legal system. The lessons we take from this trial’s relative successes, failures, and damages calculations – and the potential remedies to any incongruities we identify – are the grist of the comments section.

    I’ve enjoyed some of your comments over the years, surprised this post evoked such a reaction.

  • Thank you, CarLitGuy. I agree with your assessment.

  • I think for me, the whole thing (Gawker-v-Hogan, not asdfasdf-v-Walter!) ) comes down to “just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean you should”. Denton’s attitude finally caught up with him in a very expensive way.

  • […] filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid paying the bond which would otherwise be necessary to appeal the $140 million judgment […]