Toffoloni v. LFP Publishing Group, LLC

572 F.3d 1201 (2009)

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Toffoloni v. LFP Publishing Group, LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
572 F.3d 1201 (2009)

Facts

Nancy Benoit was the victim of a high-profile murder-suicide committed by her husband. Around 20 years before the murder, Benoit posed nude for a modeling shoot. Benoit had asked the photographer to destroy the photographs and film, but the photographer kept the video. After Benoit’s death, the photographer transmitted images from the video to LFP Publishing Group, LLC (LFP) (defendant). Several of the nude photographs were published in Hustler magazine alongside a brief biographical piece about Benoit. The magazine cover teaser and table of contents caption referred only to the nude photographs. The article title also emphasized the photographs. The short biography referencing the murder, nude photo shoot, and Benoit’s short-lived modeling career took up only a small portion of the two-page feature. Most of the page space was devoted to the nude photographs. Maureen Toffoloni (plaintiff), Benoit’s mother and the administrator of Benoit’s estate, filed suit against LFP in state court, seeking an injunction and damages for the violation of Benoit’s right to publicity. LFP removed the case to federal court. The district court granted LFP’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim because it found the photos fell within Georgia’s newsworthiness exception to the right of publicity. Toffoloni appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilson, J.)

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