TAMPA — Attorneys for wrestling star Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea filed two lawsuits Monday seeking damages against his onetime best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, and Gawker Media over a tape of Hogan having sex with Clem's former wife.
The ex-wife, Heather Clem, also is named as a defendant.
The video has sparked more than a week's worth of media interviews and gossip website coverage, with Gawker posting clips from the video, TMZ.com reporting comments made by Clem at the video's end indicating he knew the video was recording and Radar Online quoting an unnamed source who said a disgruntled employee of Clem's leaked the video.
A silent and grim-looking Hogan appeared with his attorneys at a late-afternoon news conference at the steps of the federal courthouse in Tampa.
"I'm hopeful today (the lawsuits) send the message very clearly to any other entities out there that may be considering posting all or part of this video, or for that matter any other material that would violate my client's rights, if you do so we have plenty of room on the front page of this complaint to add your name," said David Houston, Hogan's personal counsel.
The attorneys said they also may pursue state or federal charges against those involved if the secret taping violated the law.
"Mr. Hogan had a reasonable expectation of his privacy just as all Americans have a reasonable expectation of their privacy in their bedrooms," said attorney Charles Harder. "The actions of the defendants was illegal, it was outrageous and it exceeded the bounds of human decency."
Hogan's state court lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, names Clem and his ex-wife as defendants. The federal lawsuit, which seeks $100 million in damages, was filed against Gawker.
Hogan, dressed in a black t-shirt, jeans and reflective sunglasses, walked to a black limo and departed, declining to speak with reporters.
"Bubba's the victim here," said Stephen Diaco, an attorney and longtime friend of Clem's who often acts as his counsel. Diaco, who noted Clem can't speak on the issue due to provisions in his divorce settlement, added, "I don't know how you sue a victim."
Gawker officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hogan's appearance on several national media outlets to discuss the tape, including CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight and shock jock Howard Stern's show, has led some critics to wonder if this is a high-profile publicity stunt.
Times Staff Writer Eric Deggans contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.