Hulk Hogan’s high profile case against Gawker wasn’t the only legal threat the media company is facing. Gawker successfully defended itself against a lawsuit from former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Mitch Williams, who sued the news site over its 2014 reporting he was kicked out of his child’s baseball game.
In May 2014, Gawker’s sports site Deadspin reported that Williams was ejected from a children’s baseball game after using profanity.
Williams sued Deadspin for defamation in late 2014 over the story, and sued MLB Network, which fired him after the story, for breach of contract, wrongful termination and defamation, Philly.com reported.
In a memo from Gawker founder Nick Denton to staff, sent to iMediaEthics June 1, Denton announced that Williams’ lawsuit was dismissed. “All claims against Gawker were dismissed today,” Denton wrote.
“It’s easy to see the company as legally under assault,” Denton wrote after last week’s news that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel was bankrolling Hogan’s and possibly more lawsuits against Gawker. “But today’s news in the Mitch Williams case shows that, even if the wheels of justice turn slowly and expensively, they do turn. Legal protection for true stories remains strong. We just have to persevere.”
Williams’ lawyer Laura Mattiacci told iMediaEthics they plan to appeal the judge’s ruling. “We feel confident that the court will find that the actual malice decision should go to the jury for determination and we will prevail against Gawker. The case against MLB Network is heading straight to trial, hopefully this summer.”
Gawker is also facing other lawsuits brought by entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai and Ashley Terrill. About these, Denton said, “We trust the courts will dismiss these claims, as they have in the Williams case. And we remain confident that the appeals court in Florida, as it has previously, will find the story on Hulk Hogan newsworthy and correct the outsized verdict handed down by the lower court.”