Spencer Elden Refiles Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Cover Lawsuit After Recent Dismissal

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Though a judge recently dismissed the lawsuit against Nirvana by the Nevermind cover baby Spencer Elden after he missed a deadline to respond to the band’s request to dismiss, Elden has now filed a second amended complaint that will continue to seek damages from the group and other defendants.

According to Spin, the new complaint recently filed in the U.S. District Court of Central California is seeking “damages arising out of each defendant’s violations during the ten years preceding the filing of this action and since, of federal child pornography and commercial child exploitation statutes.”

As with the previous suit, the band has been named along with Universal Music Group and photographer Kirk Weddle. Elden is seeking damages of $150,000 per defendant and attorney fees.

The new complaint is seeking damages due to injuries “sustained during the ten years preceding the filing of this action, and injuries he has sustained since then.” In addition to only focusing on the last 10 years, the other change from the previous suit is that a sex trafficking claim has been removed.

In August, Elden sued Nirvana for child sexual exploitation, claiming the image of him on the cover amounted to child pornography. He sought “damages arising out of each of the Defendant’s violations of federal criminal child pornography statutes,” per court documents uploaded to Scribd at the time by Pitchfork.

In September, Elden asked parent company Universal Music to stop using the album cover that depicts his genitalia, especially for the 2021 reissue. However, the anniversary editions, ultimately released in November, still feature the original cover art. That month, Elden submitted an amendment to his claims, citing entries from Cobain’s journals to further his case.

Earlier this month, on Jan. 3, Judge Fernando M. Olguin dismissed the case after Elden’s legal team missed a deadline to respond to a dismissal request. However, in making his ruling, Olguin did so “with leave to amend,” which allowed Elden another chance to refile an amended complaint against Nirvana by a new deadline of Jan. 13.

“Plaintiff is cautioned that failure to timely file a second amended complaint shall result in this action being dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute and/or failure to comply,” the current ruling stated.

Elden’s attorney, Robert Y. Lewis, provided Spin with the following statement:

Marsh Law Firm filed a Second Amended Complaint in Spencer Elden’s ongoing case against Nirvana, Universal Music Group, and others. These revised and updated pleadings include critical new information about the creation of Nirvana’s controversial Nevermind album cover. These documents reveal images and materials which expose the Nevermind creators’ deliberate choices to commercialize and exploit the sexually explicit photo lasciviously depicting Spencer’s genitals.

This unprecedented album cover is perhaps the first and only time a child’s full-frontal nudity has been used to sell a product. Spencer’s image constitutes child pornography and each of the Nirvana Defendants robbed our client of his dignity and privacy. As long as the entertainment industry prioritizes profits over childhood privacy, consent, and dignity, our client will continue his pursuit for awareness and accountability.

With the complaint now refiled, the Nirvana estate will have until Jan. 27 to reply.

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