Earlier this year, the Hulkster himself won a large jury verdict against Gawker Media for publishing a secret sex tape showing the WrestleMania star having sex. However, the $ 140 million verdict essentially became uncollectable when the newsgroup filed for bankruptcy.
This week, news broke that the Hulkamaniac settled the $ 140 million jury verdict for a mere $ 31 million. Why Mr. Hogan was willing to settle for less requires some explanation.
Why the Hulk Settled for Less
While the jury ruled in the Hulk’s favor, Gawker appealed the jury award and filed for bankruptcy. Both those actions presented problems for the Hulk when it came to collecting the verdict. Because of the size of the jury award, Gawker may have been able to have the award reduced via appeal. Additionally, Gawker may have been able to successfully appeal the verdict of liability, which would overturn the entire case and potentially require a retrial.
When a person or company files for bankruptcy, generally, all collection efforts by creditors must stop. So when Gawker filed for bankruptcy, the Hulk was essentially left holding a piece of paper (the judgment) that would allow him to get in line with all of Gawker’s other creditors.
The Hulk’s post-verdict settlement was essentially the retired wrestler acknowledging that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. By settling, Hogan can be more certain that he will receive the amount agreed upon, and not have to wait for an appeal to be decided, nor deal with the uncertainty of how much a bankruptcy trustee would pay on the debt.
While it may seem odd to non-lawyers, post-verdict settlements are quite common. Generally, after a verdict, there are additional legal actions that can be brought, such as appeals, or motions for payment of attorney fees, or for court costs.
Frequently, in cases that allow for attorney fees to be charged against the losing party, post-verdict settlements include attorney fees and court costs, as going through the court to get these costs the losing party even more money. Also, sometimes a losing party may be able to settle for less than the court awarded in exchanging for not filing or withdrawing an appeal.
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