While Prince Harry was in London for his lawsuit against Associated Newspapers this week, Meghan Markle was handed a legal victory closer to home. In March 2022, the duchess was sued by her half sister Samantha Markle, who was seeking $75,000 in damages over statements from Meghan’s March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey and information from the 2020 book Finding Freedom, written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. On Thursday, a district court judge in Florida granted Meghan’s motion to dismiss the suit. In her order, Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell found that Meghan could not be sued for information that appeared in Durand and Scobie’s unauthorized book.
During a February virtual hearing, Samantha’s attorney argued that Meghan could be held liable for information in Finding Freedom because her then communications secretary had corresponded with the authors. The plaintiff claimed the book contained false statements that lead to “humiliation, shame and hatred on a worldwide scale.” This week, Honeywell ruled that Meghan was still not the publisher of the statements, regardless of any communication with the authors.
Also at issue was Meghan’s statement to Oprah that she wasn’t close to Samantha as a child and she “grew up as an only child.” In the order, Honeywell dismissed the assertion by Samantha’s lawyers that Meghan’s comments represented a false statement of fact. “Here, a reasonable listener would not think that Defendant was suggesting that she has no half-siblings, that Plaintiff does not actually exist, or that Plaintiff is not related to her,” the order reads. “As a reasonable listener would understand it, Defendant merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Samantha’s attorney Jamie Sasson, said that they intended to refile the suit within 14 days, addressing the CBS interview with Oprah. “It is unfortunate to see that some of the press has chosen to wrongly report on the judge’s ruling as a total win by Meghan,” it read. “We vehemently oppose the narrative that the press has decided to spin in Meghan’s favor and look forward to presenting an even stronger argument for the defamation and losses that our client has had to endure.”
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