Lawyers working on behalf of Nirvana have filed to dismiss a lawsuit made against the band by Spencer Elden, who appeared as a baby on the cover of their album Nevermind.
In the lawsuit filed in August, Elden claimed he was the victim of child sexual exploitation and that the cover artwork was a child sexual abuse image. “Defendants knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer,” the lawsuit read.
Elden amended it in November, adding details including a passage from Kurt Cobain’s journals that describes imagined child sexual abuse. He also removed a number of named defendants.
Lawyers for the remaining defendants – Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, executor of Cobain’s estate; and Kirk Weddle, the photographer of the cover image – have now sought to dismiss Elden’s suit. They claim that the two statutes under which Elden is filing his complaint have time limitations that will invalidate it and that the lawsuit “falls on its face” by being filed too late.
Elden’s claim that the image is of child sexual abuse is described by the lawyers as “not serious. A brief examination of the photograph, or Elden’s own conduct (not to mention the photograph’s presence in the homes of millions of Americans who, on Elden’s theory, are guilty of felony possession of child pornography) makes that clear.”
The motion claims the image instead “evokes themes of greed, innocence, and the motif of the cherub in western art”.
In his lawsuit, Elden said that appearing on the cover of Nevermind caused him “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations”, plus loss of education, wages, and “enjoyment of life”. Lawyers for Nirvana have countered that Elden “has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’”, including recreating the image for the album’s 15th and 25th anniversaries.
They make reference to the fact Elden has a tattoo of the word Nevermind on his chest, which Grohl also addressed when asked about the lawsuit in October: “He’s got a Nevermind tattoo. I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree [with Elden’s allegations]”.
Nirvana’s lawyers have called for a hearing for their dismissal motion in January.