ATLANTA - Larry Flynt's Hustler magazine has won the initial round of a lawsuit filed by the estate of Nancy Benoit, the slain wife of professional wrestler Chris Benoit, over nude photos of Mrs. Benoit taken 25 years ago.
Filed in Fayette County Superior Court last week by Nancy Benoit's mother Maureen Toffoloni, the lawsuit was moved to U.S. District Court because it involved a First Amendment issue.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Thrash on Friday denied Toffoloni's request for a temporary restraining order against the publication of the photos, citing First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and the fact that the publicity and media attention surrounding the Benoit murder tragedy, in which the wrestler killed his wife and young son before killing himself, was already substantial.
The ruling itself was essentially moot, though. The photos were already published in the March issue of Hustler.
"You can't unpublish speech already published," said Atlanta attorney S. Derek Bauer, who represented Hustler parent company LFP Publishing Group in the case. "You can't unring the bell."