Supreme Court OKs Benoit Lawsuit Vs. Hustler Over Nude Pics

The estate of the late Nancy Benoit may proceed with a privacy suit against racy magazine Hustler over nude photographs of the former wrestler. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out Hustler’s appeal to dismiss the case on the grounds that its publication of the pictures taken more than 20 years ago is covered by First Amendment protection granted to the media.

In ruling against Larry Flynt’s Hustler, the high court said that the publication of the photographs, which was done without Benoit or her family’s approval, infringed on the wrestler’s right of privacy. Benoit’s mother, Maureen Toffoloni, filed the case after Hustler published the pictures in the March 2008 issue of the magazine, less than a year since Benoit was killed by her husband, wrestler David Benoit.

The Georgia Supreme Court had previously thrown out Hustler’s appeal, saying that the publication of Benoit’s short biography along with her naked pictures did not qualify the article as something “newsworthy.”

The nude pictures were taken by photographer Mark Samansky, who consequently sold the stills to Flynt’s Hustler. Toffoloni said in her petition that her daughter had instructed Samansky to destroy the photographs.