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Meghan Markle Wins Defamation Lawsuit Brought By Half-Sister

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Updated: | Originally published:

A motion to dismiss has been granted to Meghan Markle in the defamation lawsuit filed against her by her half-sister, Samantha Markle.

Markle was sued for defamation by her half-sister following a 2021 CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which she said she was an only child and did not have a close relationship with Samantha, her half-sister from her father Thomas Markle’s first marriage. Samantha also alleged in the lawsuit that the couple’s 2022 Netflix documentary series Harry & Meghan contained 14 defamatory statements against her.

In her complaint, Samantha argued that people around her “turned against” her, viewing her as “an opportunist trying to cash in on her sister’s success and fame, despite having no relationship with her.” Samantha sought $75,000 in damages, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the same claim cannot be filed again, in an order issued March 12, with Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell ruling that Samantha was unable to provide significant evidence to prove defamation.

In a statement, Meghan's lawyer, Michael Kump, said that they were "pleased with the Court's ruling dismissing the case." Samantha's lawyer called the decision "upsetting" in a statement via email, adding they "will be appealing this decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and hope that the 3 judge panel sees it differently."

In the motion to dismiss, Judge Honeywell said that the examples cited in the lawsuit are simply a matter of differing opinion. “Plaintiff alleges that the statements painted her as 'a stranger, a liar,’ and ‘a deceptive fame-seeking imposter with avaricious intentions,’” the motion to dismiss reads. “She goes on to argue that the statements ‘insinuated that [Plaintiff] has concocted a fictitious story to reap some inappropriate reward from [Defendant]’s fame.’ These… are quintessential examples of opinion that cannot be verified and therefore cannot serve as the basis of a defamation action.”

Samantha has tried twice before to sue Meghan for defamation, in cases that were thrown out in 2022 and 2023. "As a reasonable listener would understand it, defendant merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings,” Judge Honeywell wrote in 2023. “Thus, the court finds that defendant’s statement is not objectively verifiable or subject to empirical proof.”

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Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com