Can a magazine publish nude photographs of a beautiful woman years after she was killed by her famous husband? This case involved Hussler Magazine which decided to publish nude photos of Nancy Benoit, who along with her young son, was strangled by her professional wrestler husband, Chris Benoit, who then committed suicide. Nancy was a well-known model and wrestler in her own right and the deaths garnered a great deal of publicity. Twenty years before these tragic events occurred, Mark took photographs and videos of Nancy. Nancy’s mother, as administrator of Nancy’s estate, sued, to stop Hussler from publishing the photos, claiming Nancy had asked Mark to destroy them and believed that he had. The Court that first heard the case dismissed it, concluding that Nancy’s death was a legitimate matter of public interest. But the Appeals Court reverses, stating the right of publicity does not end with death and Hussler’s headlined “exclusive nude pictures of wrestler’s doomed wife” will not be allowed, that an infamous murder does not render one’s entire life an open book. So last rights include the right to right or wrong.
THIS IS NEIL CHAYET LOOKING AT THE LAW™
Maureen Toffoloni vs. LFB Publishing Group, d/b/a Hussler Magazine, et al., Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 08-16148, 6-25-2009, Wilson, J.