Update on Martha Hart’s Lawsuit Against WWE & The McMahons
– There has been some changes recently in Martha Hart’s lawsuit against WWE, Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon with part of what was still in court being thrown out.
On November 16th, Judge Stefan R. Underhill dismissed more of Hart’s lawsuit against WWE. It remains to be seen what was actually dismissed and what is left but it appears that WWE continues to whittle down the charges brought against them by Owen Hart’s widow.
Before the November 16th hearing, what was remaining were claims that Owen’s name would have reverted back to his usage and his usage alone in his passing and that his legal name would not be considered his “ring name”, meaning WWE does not have the rights to use, market and promote that name in their materials and DVD releases. The claim also remained that WWE released eight DVD’s and other materials including the WWE Encyclopedia without proper payments to Owen’s estate per his Booking Contract with Titan Sports, which required royalty payments continue after his death, per the written contract. Furthermore, the claims that WWE used original intellectual property including family photos without the permission of Owen’s estate and that the Owen Hart Foundation has been hurt due to its unwanted association with WWE through WWE’s use of Owen video and other material.
On November 27th, a judge partially approved a motion to dismiss Hart’s copyright infringement claim against Vince personally. Judge Underhill ruled that Hart’s camp “failed to prevent sufficient evidence of McMahon’s vicarious liability for copyright infringement.” The Judge noted that to establish liability in a copyright infringement claim, Hart’s camp would need to prove that Vince had “the right and ability to supervise and an obvious and direct financial interest in the exploitation of copyrighted materials.” The only proof Hart had was that Vince is WWE’s President and majority shareholder but that was not enough to leave him personally responsible for any alleged copyright infringements.
It’s worth noting that Linda was not mentioned in any of the recent rulings so parts of the lawsuit against her personally may still be going on.
Vince and Linda had requested the court order Hart’s attorneys to pay for some of WWE’s legal fees but the court denied that sanctioning. The court also refused to remove certain remarks made in Hart’s most recent amended lawsuit against WWE and the McMahons.