August 8, 2016 / 2:37 AM / 3 years ago

Gawker, Hulk Hogan in settlement talks over privacy case: WSJ

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, sits in court during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Florida March 17, 2016. Hogan accused Gawker of leaking his racist comments from a secretly-recorded sex tape in a lawsuit filed on May 2, 2016, in Florida. REUTERS/Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/Pool via Reuters

(Reuters) - Gawker Media Group is engaged in preliminary talks with the former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan to reach a settlement over a $140 million court judgment that led the company to file for bankruptcy protection, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The settlement talks come a week ahead of a court-administered auction that will see Gawker Chief Executive Nick Denton lose control of the company, the Journal said.

Similar discussions had taken place throughout the legal process, but it was not clear if the new talks would lead to a settlement, the WSJ said, citing two unnamed sources it said were familiar with the matter.

Gawker and representatives for Denton and Hogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hogan’s lawsuit accused Gawker, Denton and former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio of violating his privacy by publishing a 1 minute, 41-second edited video clip featuring Hogan having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, the radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

In June, Gawker Media LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and put itself up for sale after Hogan won the judgment, while Denton filed for personal bankruptcy protection last week, naming Hogan as his largest creditor.

The bankruptcy filing followed revelations that billionaire investor Peter Thiel was bankrolling Hogan’s lawsuit, along with several others against Gawker.

Thiel’s involvement raised alarm bells in U.S. media circles over whether wealthy individuals are trying to muzzle the press.

Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby and Gopakumar Warrier

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