The founder of Gawker Media, Nick Denton, may be facing personal bankruptcy. A U.S. judge recently refused to extend special protections that were shielding him from having to pay an invasion of privacy lawsuit ruling concerning ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan.
The judge’s decision is a significant victory for Hogan and for Peter Thiel — a billionaire investor who helped pay for Hogan’s lawsuit after Gawker released an article about Thiel being a homosexual.
Gawker is a United States-based Internet publisher, which sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a judgment requiring Gawker to pay Hulk Hogan $140 million. According to the courts, Denton himself is liable for $125 million worth of the ruling. The suit related to invasion of privacy allegations concerning Gawker’s release of clips from a sex tape.
Initially, Nick Denton succeeded in getting a temporary protection from needing to personally pay Hulk Hogan based on arguments that if he were required to file for personal bankruptcy as well, then the proceedings would distract him from navigating his company’s Chapter 11 process. However, on July 19, the U.S. bankruptcy court judge presiding over the matter denied Denton’s request to extend the shield.
In court papers, Denton claimed that he only has two assets — his ownership share of Gawker, which amounts to approximately 30 percent and his apartment. Only time will tell how the personal bankruptcy process for Denton proceeds; however, depending on what kind of bankruptcy he files for, Denton may be required to liquidate property to pay Hogan’s lawsuit award in Chapter 7. He may be required to pursue a payment plan to pay off Hogan via Chapter 11 proceedings.
Source: Reuters, “Gawker Media founder faces personal bankruptcy,” Jessica Dinapoli, July 19, 2016