Meghan Markle triumphs over half-sister Samantha in defamation case – Details

In a victory for the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle a Florida judge has dismissed the defamation lawsuit filed by her half-sister, Samantha Markle.

The lawsuit claimed that Meghan Markle made false and malicious statements about Samantha in her 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and in an unauthorized biography called Finding Freedom. Here are the details of the case and the judge’s ruling.

The lawsuit

Samantha Markle, who is 17 years older than Meghan and shares a father with her, sued Meghan for $75,000 in damages in March 2022.

She alleged that Meghan defamed her by saying that she grew up as an only child and that Samantha barely knew her. She also accused Meghan of spreading lies about her and their father, Thomas Markle, to promote a “false rags-to-royalty narrative” about her life.

Samantha claimed that Meghan’s statements caused her to suffer “humiliation and hatred” from the public and damaged her reputation and credibility.

She also demanded that Meghan retract her allegations against the royal family and affirm that they were not racist.

The interview and the book

The lawsuit was based on two sources of Meghan’s statements: her interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 and the book Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, published in August 2020.

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In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that she had a difficult relationship with her father and his side of the family.

She said that she was “an only child” and that Samantha “changed her last name back to Markle … only when I started dating Harry.” She also said that Samantha “wrote a book called The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.”

In the book, which was written with the cooperation of Meghan and Harry’s friends but not authorized by them, the authors claimed that Samantha had been “handsomely paid” for giving negative stories about Meghan to tabloids and that she had “spent most of her life out of touch” with Meghan.

The ruling

On Thursday, March 31, 2023, US District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell dismissed Samantha’s lawsuit, saying that it failed to state a claim for defamation. She ruled that Meghan’s statements were opinions and not facts, and, therefore not capable of being proven false.

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She wrote: “As a reasonable listener would understand it, Defendant merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings. Thus, the Court finds that Defendant’s statement is not objectively verifiable or subject to empirical proof. Plaintiff cannot plausibly disprove Defendant’s opinion of her own childhood.”

She also found that Meghan could not be held liable for the contents of Finding Freedom, as she did not publish it or have control over it. She said that Samantha did not show any evidence that Meghan was involved in writing or editing the book or that she authorized its publication.

The reaction

Meghan has not commented publicly on the ruling, but her lawyer, Michael Kump, said he was pleased with the outcome. He said: “Not every perceived slight ought to be litigated, and that’s true here. Plaintiff is taking issue with Meghan’s own impressions of her own childhood growing up, but that’s not a proper subject matter for a court of law.”

Samantha’s lawyer, Peter Ticktin, said that he was disappointed with the decision and that he would appeal it. He said: “We believe this case should have gone to trial so that we could have presented our evidence to show how Meghan Markle lied about her sister and father to millions of people around the world.” He also said that he hoped Meghan would “do the right thing” and apologize to Samantha and their father.

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