WWE settles with Martha Hart over royalties lawsuit

Owen's wife Martha Hart is one of the few people to win two lawsuit settlements from WWE - Photo by ae! of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite earlier court victories, WWE have finally settled out of court Martha Hart's lawsuit for using her late husband Owen Hart's likeness without her permission in company DVD releases and withholding royalties from their sale.

In June 2010, Martha Hart, the widow of Owen Hart, who won an $18 million wrongful death lawsuit against the WWF 18 months after her husband died when he fell from the rafters of the Kemper Arena due to his safety harness malfunctioning, sued WWE again for using Owen's likeness without her permission in company DVD releases and withholding royalties from their sale.

This quickly led to a war of words between Martha Hart and her opponents Linda McMahon and WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt in the Connecticut media, with the latter pair falsely insinuating that it was merely a politically motivated personal attack.

Bret Hart, who had fallen out with Martha, probably over his doing business with WWE again in mid 2005, after being close with her in the aftermath of Owen's death, gave his two pennies worth too, suspecting that the lawsuit was "more about publicity, ego, and small-mindedness than it [was] about pro-wrestling and all of those that are in it".

He seemed to have a bit of a point when Martha Hart dropped many of her claims against WWE by Jan. 2011, including the desire to prevent WWE from ever using Owen Hart footage again, the allegations that the McMahon family never apologised for her husband's death and that they personally directed the stunt that led to his death, and that the company violated her copyright on the life story of Owen Hart. The only charges that were left were the ones about withholding royalties (which McDevitt argued was because Martha had sent the promotion a letter asking them to stop sending her cheques when she started legal proceedings against WWE in the summer of 1999), an attempt to stop WWE from using Owen's name in all advertising and on packaging in future, and the usage of photos she owned the copyright to in WWE's Hart & Soul DVD.

However, earlier this week WWE publicly announced that they had settled the suit with Martha Hart out of court:

"A joint announcement was made today by Martha Hart, Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon that Hart's lawsuit against WWE has been settled out of court. Terms of the settlement were not announced."

On his subscriber only radio show yesterday, Dave Meltzer noted that this follows a continuing WWE departure from fighting every case to the bitter end. Nowadays, the company doesn't want to antagonise their enemies if at all possible. There was also probably the realisation that if it went to court they'd lose on the royalties issue, so it made sense to cut their losses while they were ahead.

Meltzer raised the possibility that this could pave the way for Owen Hart to go into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2014 and that the favourable settlement could be linked to this. However, knowing how consistently anti-WWE Martha Hart has been ever since her husband's death (rightfully so), I would be very surprised if that was the case. Though I guess if the company can make a deal with Bruno Sammartino, then anything can happen in the WWE today.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Cageside Seats

You must be a member of Cageside Seats to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cageside Seats. You should read them.

Join Cageside Seats

You must be a member of Cageside Seats to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cageside Seats. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5349_tracker