TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday that was brought on by Meghan Markle’s half-sister, Samantha Markle.
United States District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell ruled that Samantha cannot sue the Duchess of Sussex for defamation over claims made in the book “Finding Freedom” or Meghan’s comments in her CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The judge determined that Meghan “cannot be held liable for statements in a book that she did not publish” and that telling Oprah that she “grew up as an only child” is a protected opinion.
BBC reported that the lawsuit was filed in Florida in March 2022 and Samantha sought $75,000 in damages. Samantha is a resident of Lakeland, Florida.
Meghan and Samantha are the daughters of Thomas Markle.
In the lawsuit, Samantha said the two were close during childhood and had a “wonderful relationship.” However, Samantha said their relationship soured after Meghan met Prince Harry and became engaged to him. They married in May 2018.
Samantha claimed she received “negative press coverage” after she told a reporter that their father Thomas should have been at Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding.
In the lawsuit, Samantha said the book titled “Finding Freedom,” was an “unauthorized” biography. She claimed that Meghan contributed false information to the book through her agent and communications secretary. She also had an issue with Chapter 12 of the book, allegeding it had numerous false statements.
Samantha also claimed that Meghan made three defamatory statements in a March, 7, 2021, interview with Oprah, when Meghan said he was an only child, that she never met Samantha and that Samantha changed her last name to “Markle” after she started dating Prince Harry so she could cash in on her new found fame.
“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,” the judge wrote, dismissing Samantha’s claim.
“For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants the motion to dismiss,” the judge concluded. “Plaintiff’s claims based on Finding Freedom will be dismissed with prejudice, as Plaintiff cannot plausibly allege that Defendant published the book, and amendment of these claims would be futile. Plaintiff will be allowed one final opportunity to replead her claims related to Defendant’s CBS interview and her claim for injurious falsehood.”