Meghan Markle scored a small victory in court, after a judge sided with her in her half-sister, Samantha Markle’s, defamation lawsuit against the Duchess of Sussex. But Samantha’s lawyer is saying not so fast, telling ET the legal fight is not over.
According to court documents, obtained by ET, United States District Judge Charlene Honeywell in the Middle District of Florida ruled in favor of Meghan after she dismissed with prejudice the majority of claims in the lawsuit, specifically pertained to the 2020 book, Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family.
Samantha had previously claimed in her lawsuit, filed in February, that Meghan “published and disseminated false and malicious statements” in that book, but the judge shot down the claims, saying “it is undisputed that [Meghan] did not publish” the book.
The judge also dismissed the rest of Samantha’s claims without prejudice, meaning she can re-file her lawsuit if she so chooses, and her lawyer, Jamie A. Sasson, tells ET she intends to do exactly that.
Samantha had claimed, among other things, that Meghan, in a 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, accused her of changing her surname back to Markle “so that [Samantha] could cash in on her newfound fame.” The judge said Samantha’s claim is explicitly contradicted by the transcript from that Oprah interview, and the court concluded it cannot “draw a reasonable inference that [Meghan] is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Samantha had also claimed Meghan told Oprah and millions of viewers that she had only met Samantha “a handful of times.” The judge again went back to the transcript and said “this statement is nowhere to be found in the interview transcript.”
Additionally, Samantha claimed Meghan defamed her by “falsely and maliciously” saying she was “an only child.”
Oprah, in the 2021 interview, asked Meghan about her half-sister, Samantha, writing a tell-all book and the nature of their relationship. Meghan told Oprah in the interview, “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.”
The judge wrote in her ruling, “[A] reasonable listener would understand it, [Meghan] merely expresses an opinion about her childhood and her relationship with her half-siblings.”
ET has reached out to Meghan’s rep for comment. In a statement to ET, Samantha’s lawyer said, “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. Upon reviewing the order, it is made very clear that the entire case was not tossed out, but in fact, the Judge is allowing Samantha the ability to amend her complaint within a 14 day period.”
The statement continued, “This upcoming amendment will address certain legal issues that are related to our claims for defamation as it specifically relates to the Oprah interview on CBS. We vehemently oppose the narrative that the press has decided to spin in Megan’s favor and look forward to presenting an even stronger argument for the defamation and losses that our Client has had to endure.”