A Pinellas County circuit court judge determined Gawker Media and wrestler Hulk Hogan, also known as Terry Bollea, should attempt mediation to settle the legal dispute involving both sides. The judge made the recommendation after discussing the upcoming reviews of DVDs made by an FBI sting operation. The attorneys viewed the DVDs and reported back to the judge, which prompted her to suggested mediation. She stated it is not mandatory, but believes it will be the better option since the DVDs contain sexual material.
Bollea sued the Internet site Gawker for $100 million in 2012 after the site published part of a sex tape made by him and Heather Cole, the ex-wife of radio shock DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. The tape reportedly includes racial and homophobic slurs made by Bollea.
Attorneys for both sides will review five of the un-redacted DVDs that were produced by the FBI during an investigation into a reported extortion attempt against Bollea.
Gawker sued the FBI to obtain the records after a judge ruled they were available under the FOIA. The DVDs include two audio recordings and three videos. The judge recommended the FBI audio recordings be heard before the videos are viewed. She wants each side to determine what they want done with the tapes before the trial moves forward, hoping the dispute will be settled through mediation.
The trial is still scheduled to begin with jury selection in March if mediation proves unsuccessful. The tapes have already caused a great deal of damage to Bollea’s professional reputation, including cut ties with his long-term employer, World Wrestling Entertainment.