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Free Speech

Meghan Markle Wins Dismissal of Defamation Suit Brought by Half-Sister Samantha Markle


See today's decision by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell (M.D. Fla.) in Markle v. Markle. There's a lot going on there, but here is one excerpt. First, one defamatory passage from an Oprah Winfrey interview, with the allegedly defamatory material underlined:

Oprah Winfrey: And Samantha Markle, your half-sister on your father's side, has written a, a supposedly tell all book about you. What is … your relationship with her?

Defendant: I think it would be very hard to tell all when you don't know me. And … this is a very different situation than my dad, right? When you talk about betrayal, betrayal comes from someone that you have a relationship with. Right? I don't feel comfortable talking about people that I really don't know. But I grew up as an only child, which everyone who grew up around me knows, and I wished I had siblings. I would have loved to have had siblings ….

And here's the court's rejection of the claim that this is defamatory:

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…. 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…. Because the statement is not "capable of being proved false, it is protected from a defamation action."

Congratulations to Jonathan P. Steinsapir and Michael J. Kump (Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump and Aldisert), Nicholas Soltman, and Ronnie J. Bitman (Bitman, O'Brien & Morat, PLLC), who represent defendant.