- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 22, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The widow of a World Wrestling Entertainment performer who died in a 1999 stunt says she’s suing the Connecticut-based company and its leaders, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon.

Martha Hart said Mrs. McMahon, who stepped down as WWE chief executive to run for Senate, and her husband, Vince, the current chairman, have continued to use Owen Hart’s image to promote the business despite agreeing to stop after his death.

Mrs. Hart planned to file her lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford

Mr. Hart died when he fell 78 feet from a harness as it lowered him into a wrestling ring in Kansas City, Mo., on May 23, 1999. He was 34.

His family sued the WWE and several other defendants in the death. Mrs. Hart agreed to a $18 million settlement with the WWE in 2000.

In her new lawsuit, she alleges the WWE and the McMahons violated a contract that restricts the use of Mr. Hart’s name, likeness and wrestling footage.

She said in a written statement Tuesday that she learned earlier this year that his image was appearing in WWE promotional materials.

“In the 11 years since Owen’s tragic and avoidable death, I have worked tirelessly to disassociate Owen’s name and likeness from anything related to WWE in order to protect our children from any reminder of the circumstances surrounding their father’s death, and to avoid any misplaced perception that I endorse WWE,” she said in a statement.

Representatives for the WWE and Mrs. McMahon’s Senate campaign said they could not immediately comment but expected to release statements later Tuesday.

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