Justices allow lawsuit against Hustler to proceed

By The Associated Press
03.01.10

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is allowing a lawsuit to proceed against Hustler Magazine over decades-old nude photographs of a woman that were published after she was killed by her husband, wrestler Chris Benoit.

The Court turned down Hustler’s appeal today. Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and their son before committing suicide in 2007.

Hustler published 20-year-old nude photographs of Nancy Benoit after the deaths gained international attention.

Her family filed a federal lawsuit against the Larry Flynt Publishing Group, Hustler’s publisher, claiming that the woman, a model and former professional wrestler herself, had asked the photographer to destroy the images immediately after they were shot.

A federal judge ruled in the magazine’s favor in October 2008, dismissing the lawsuit and concluding that the magazine had the right to publish the photos in part because her death was a “legitimate matter of public interest and concern.”

Last year, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judge’s ruling, saying the magazine had no right to publish the photos.

The magazine, backed by journalists’ groups, said it had a First Amendment right to publish the pictures.

The case is LFP Publishing v. Toffoloni, 09-625.