Suit vs. Linda McMahon partly dismissed

Published Apr. 4, 2012 1:00 a.m. EDT

A federal judge has dismissed a portion of a lawsuit by the widow of a World Wrestling Entertainment performer against the company's former chief executive Linda McMahon, who's running for the US Senate.

Martha Hart sued WWE and McMahon in 2010 during her first run for the Senate, which the Republican lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Hart said the company used the image of her late husband, Owen Hart, in videos and other materials without her permission and despite her objections.

The portion of the lawsuit regarding the use of family photographs with Owen Hart's image will proceed as part of the lawsuit, Martha Hart said Wednesday. Judge Stefan Underhill also allowed Martha Hart's claim for unpaid royalties against WWE to proceed.

However, Judge Underhill dismissed the claims against McMahon and her husband, Vince McMahon, and most claims against WWE. He said the company, which is based in Stamford and has formally changed its name from World Wrestling Entertainment to WWE, retained a right to Owen Hart's wrestling career when he was under contract to WWE.


Owen Hart died in a televised stunt in 1999, when he fell from an apparatus while being lowered into the wrestling ring from the ceiling of Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. He was 34 years old.

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, who called the lawsuit a "political stunt" in 2010, said he was pleased with the ruling.

A message left Wednesday with Hart's attorney wasn't immediately returned.

Owen Hart's parents are Helen and Stu Hart, a pioneer of professional wrestling in Western Canada.