Linda McMahon sued by widow of WWE wrestler Owen Hart
Linda McMahon, U.S. Senate candidate from Connecticut, is being sued by the widow of wrestler Owen Hart for using his image.
The widow of a World Wrestling Entertainment performer who died in a televised 1999 stunt filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Connecticut-based company and its leaders, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon.Skip to next paragraph
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Martha Hart said she learned two months ago that McMahon, who stepped down as WWE chief executive in the fall to run for Senate, and her husband, Vince, the current chairman, for years have used the image of her late husband, Owen Hart, in at least 37 videos and other materials without her knowledge and permission, and despite her objections to his likeness being associated with the pro-wrestling company.
"They'd have to be living under a rock if they didn't get that I don't want any association with them whatsoever or Owen to be associated with them whatsoever," said Martha Hart, who lives in Calgary, Alberta, with the couple's two children, now 18 and 14.
"I believe it is morally, ethically and legally wrong for the WWE to seek profit from Owen's death," she told reporters at a news conference held at a hotel in downtown Hartford. The WWE is based in Stamford.
Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for the WWE, called the lawsuit "a political stunt" coming as McMahon campaigns. Martha Hart's request for an injunction from a Canadian court in March to stop a video featuring Owen Hart — a request that was denied — was the first time the company had heard from the widow since she legally settled with it in 2000, he said.
WWE said it paid $10 million to Martha Hart, $3 million to each of her children and $1 million to each of Owen Hart's parents.
McDevitt also pointed out that Linda McMahon wasn't the CEO of the company when the video was released earlier this year, but Martha Hart said McMahon was in charge when the WWE decided to use his images in other videos.
"I don't think you'd see what happened today if Linda wasn't running for Senate," McDevitt said. Martha Hart denied her case had anything to do with the campaign but said voters in Connecticut should questionLinda McMahon's moral character.
McMahon recently won the endorsement of the Republican Party to seek retiring Democrat Christopher Dodd's seat. She faces a primary challenge from Weston businessman Peter Schiff, and Republican former Rep. Rob Simmons has not removed his name from the Aug. 10 primary ballot.
McMahon, who has pledged to spend up to $50 million of her own money on the race, trails the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in public opinion polls on hypothetical general election matchups.
"The death of Owen Hart was a tragic accident and this claim is nothing more than pure political orchestration," said Robert Zimmerman, a spokesman for the WWE.