Bollea counters divorce suit

The alter ego of wrestler Hulk Hogan says his wife is capable of supporting herself.

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY, Times Staff Writer
Published November 30, 2007

In a counter-petition to his wife's divorce suit, Terry Bollea, widely known as wrestler Hulk Hogan, said his wife can support herself.

In the court filing, Terry Bollea, 54, contested everything from his wife's alimony and custody claims to the couple's marriage date. Linda Bollea's petition lists it as Dec. 12, 1983, while Terry Bollea says it was Dec. 18.

Terry Bollea had it right: Public records show they were married Dec. 18, 1983.

According to court documents, Terry and Linda Bollea separated about a month after their son Nick's Aug. 26 car wreck, which critically injured his friend and passenger, John Graziano.

Terry Bollea's attorney, Ann Loughridge Kerr in Clearwater, declined to comment. Linda Bollea's attorney, Elliot Jay Goldstein of Largo, did not return a telephone call Thursday.

Linda Bollea, 48, is seeking an unspecified amount of alimony and child support. She also wants custody of their son, subject to "liberal visitation" with his father.

But in his counter-claim, Terry Bollea said his wife is capable of supporting herself and helping support their son, 17, who will be a minor until July.

The petition also says Nick Bollea is old enough to decide with whom he will live and that "it would be in the best interest for the parties to have shared parental responsibility."

Terry Bollea said the couple's assets and liabilities should be divided between them.

Their assets include the nearly 17,000-square-foot mansion on Willadel Drive in Belleair where the family lives and a 3,474-square-foot home on Eldorado Avenue on Clearwater Beach.

Together, the properties are assessed for tax purposes at a total of $7.953-million.

Terry Bollea's petition also mentions "numerous liabilities, contingent liabilities, obligations and debts which must be resolved as part of any equitable distribution that may be accomplished by the court."

It has been a difficult year for the Bolleas, who starred in a VH-1 reality television show called Hogan Knows Best.

Nick Bollea is facing a felony charge of reckless driving with serious bodily injury. Police said Bollea was racing his Toyota Supra just before the crash that left Graziano with a serious brain injury.

One doctor said Graziano, who was recently transferred to the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, will likely need lifelong care.

Interviews with Graziano's mother, Debra Graziano, and his younger brother, Michael Graziano, were released Thursday as part of the court file in Nick Bollea's criminal case.

Both said that immediately after the accident, Nick Bollea told them the wreck was caused when he hit a puddle and hydroplaned.

But a Clearwater police investigation showed that scenario was unlikely.

Investigators sprayed hundreds of gallons of water on Court Street where the crash occurred. They said the water quickly ran to the curb.

"Neither of us saw any standing water that could result in a hydroplane situation," wrote Officer David Nugent.

Kevin Hayslett, Nick Bollea's attorney, disputed the finding. He said that standing water caused by rain before the accident "was a contributing if not the proximate cause of this accident."

Debra Graziano also told police Terry Bollea was upset because his son and his three friends left the Bollea house in Belleair without him because they tired of waiting for him to finish taking a long shower.

She said. Terry Bollea told her he wouldn't have let the group take the Supra.

"[H]e assumed that they were taking the car that they would normally take, which - I don't know if it's a big truck, or a Hummer," Debra Graziano said. "Something big and sturdy, I remember it was."

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at tel-khoury@sptimes.com or 727 445-4181.