Hustler Must Pay Nancy Benoit's Family Over Nude Photos
Hustler Magazine must pay financial damages to the family of the late Nancy Benoit ("Woman") because of some nude photos that the magazine published in spring of 2008. A trial will be held to see exactly how much Larry Flynt Publishing owes the Benoit family.
The United States Court of Appeals in Georgia overruled a previous judgment in the lawsuit brought against Hustler for publishing nude photos of a young Nancy Benoit in the middle of the Benoit family tragedy. The photos were taken in 1983, and were from a nude photo and video session Nancy Benoit did while contemplating adult modeling. She did not pursue that career path and requested that the photos be destroyed. She thought that was the case even when she died, but then the photos emerged in the magazine during the tragedy.
The Toffolonis, Nancy Benoit's parents, filed a lawsuit right away, but they lost because the judge said the photos were "newsworthy." They appealed, and won a judgment when the appeals court stated that the photos were published without permission and without compensation. They said that Hustler violated Nancy Benoit's privacy.
The court had this to say during a June 2009 ruling: "The photographs by themselves serve no legitimate purpose of disseminating news … and needlessly expose aspects of the plaintiff's private life to the public. Indeed, people are nude every day and the news media does not typically find the occurrence worth reporting."
Hustler proceed to go to the Supreme Court, making the case that the 1st Amendment "requires a broad interpretation of the newsworthiness standard". Hustler also tried to cite previous similar cases, but the Supreme Court did not take their side.
U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. wrote: "No reasonable juror could conclude that [Larry Flynt Publishing] did not publish the photographs and the article for financial gain. The evidence shows that LFP made significant profits off the March 2008 issue and that the reaction to the Benoit photographs was 'huge and overwhelmingly positive.' "