The Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit against Gawker Media has begun.
Hogan was filmed having sex with a friend’s wife nearly a decade ago and a small portion of the video was shown on Gawker nearly six years later.
Opening statements began Monday at the Pinellas County Judicial Building in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Hulk Hogan is suing Gawker for $100 million in a civil lawsuit that centers on the publications decision to publish a small portion of the sex tape.
Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea, will testify later in the day.
Hogan’s attorney, David Houston, said he expects to have the plaintiff’s case wrapped by Thursday afternoon.
“Then we’ll turn it over to Gawker and see how much lipstick they can put on a pig,” Houston said.
Houston says Gawker’s “first amendment” argument is clearly incorrect.
“Clearly, this has never been a First Amendment case,” he said.
Gawker’s attorneys contend that Hogan made his sexual exploits a matter of public interest, and that the sex tape itself had been covered by the media.
“We are defending the First Amendment against Hulk Hogan’s effort to create a world where celebrities can promote themselves around any topic, in this case sex, and then veto how the media covers their lives,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Gawker published one minute and 40 seconds worth of the 30-minute sex tape in 2012.
Former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, is named as a defendant, as is Gawker founder Nick Denton.
In the sex tape Hogan was seen engaging in intercourse with Heather Clem, the wife of radio host Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem.
The sex act was captured by surveillance cameras inside the Clem’s home, and Bubba Clem has testified that it was never supposed to see the light of day.
After the tape surfaced Clem said Hogan knew he was being recorded. Days later, after reaching a settlement with Hogan, Clem sang a different tune.
“After further investigation, I am now convinced that Hulk Hogan was unaware of the presence of the recording device in my bedroom,” he said in a statement.
Houston argues that Gawker was free to provide coverage of the sex tape without actually showing footage from the tape.
“Gawker believes that they can tell the story not only with words but a purloined tape,” he said.
Seth Berlin, an attorney for Gawker, said that Hogan can’t just use the legal system to punish news coverage.
“Gawker is allowed to join that very public conversation without getting sued for tens of millions of dollars simply because Hogan didn’t like the way Gawker did so,” Berlin said. “Public figures and celebrities don’t get to use the court system to punish speech about them that they don’t like. That’s just not the country we live in.”
The Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit is being overseen by a mostly female jury.