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Nirvana’s legal team seeks to end album cover lawsuit

February 1, 2022

Rock band Nirvana’s legal team has hit back in response to the ongoing lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, who appeared naked in the cover photograph for the band’s 1991 Nevermind album when he was a baby, stating that ‘this case must end’.

As reported by the Planet Rock website, Nirvana’s lawyers have submitted a fresh motion for the case to be dismissed. In their legal papers the band’s legal team have called, ‘for an order dismissing this action, with prejudice‘ and ‘on the grounds that it is barred by the statute of limitations‘.

The lawyers argue that, ‘no amendment (from Elden) is possible to salvage the claim‘ and add, ‘In his ever-shrinking pleading, Elden has now dismissed all but one of the myriad state and federal law claims he previously attempted to charge against Defendants.’ Nirvana’s legal team also wrote, ‘The time has run out. Elden’s decision to not sue these defendants for the past 30 years, despite his decades-long knowledge of their same and unvaried conduct, is dispositive of his claim. It is as simple as that.’

The Nevermind album cover image is at the centre of a lawsuit

The Nevermind album cover, shot by photographer Kirk Weddle, is at the centre of a lawsuit brought by Spencer Elden, who was a four-months-old baby when the shoot took place

Original lawsuit

Elden’s original lawsuit, filed in August 2021, came just one month before the 30th anniversary of the original release of the Nevermind LP. Elden sued former Nirvana band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the photographer Kirk Weddle, singer Courtney Love (as executor of the late Nirvana singer Kirk Cobain’s estate), Universal Music Group, Geffen Records and several other parties, for alleged sexual exploitation.

The lawsuit said, ‘Defendants knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer.’ Elden added he was unable to give permission for his image to be used as he was a baby and that his parents never gave him permission either. As a result, the cover image caused him, ‘extreme and permanent emotional distress, plus loss of education, wages and ‘enjoyment of life.’

Fresh claims

In November 2021, Elden added fresh claims to his lawsuit and in December 2021, Nirvana’s estate first responded to Elden’s initial claims and argued that the Nevermind artwork, which features the main image shot by US photographer Kirk Weddle, isn’t child pornography. The Nirvana estate’s December 2021 legal response stated that the statute of limitations for the lawsuit expired more than 10 years ago, and also said, ‘Elden has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed “Nirvana Baby”.’

Photographer Kirk Weddle is one of several parties named in the lawsuit brought by Spencer Elden over Nirvana's Nevermind album cover

Photographer Kirk Weddle (above) is one of several parties named in the lawsuit brought by Spencer Elden over Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover

Elden’s lawsuit was dismissed ‘with leave to amend’ on 3 January 2022 as Elden’s legal team missed a 30 December 2021 deadline to file an opposition to the Nirvana estate’s request for the lawsuit to be thrown out.

Refiled suit

On 12 January 2022 Elden’s legal representatives refiled a lawsuit, one day before a required court deadline, and dropped a claim related to sex trafficking. The 35-page document once again accused Nirvana of ‘federal child pornography and commercial child exploitation’ and stated that the legal action ‘seeks to recover for injuries Spencer Elden sustained during the 10 years preceding the filing of this action, and injuries he has sustained since then, as a result of defendants.’

Following the latest move by the Nirvana estate’s lawyers to have the case dismissed, the next hearing in the ongoing legal saga is due to take place at 10am on Thursday 24 February 2022 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Photographer Kirk Weddle has declined to comment to Amateur Photographer whilst the lawsuit is ongoing.


Related articles:

Nirvana album photographer sued by the baby (who’s now 30)

Nirvana cover image lawsuit dismissed (for now)

Greatest album photography of all time: Nirvana’s Nevermind

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