News  /  April 3, 2023  /  

KHIKS Wins Dismissal of Defamation Action

KHIKS partners Michael Kump, Jonathan Steinsapir, and Nicholas Soltman obtained the dismissal of a defamation action filed against the firm’s client, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex. In March 2022, Meghan’s half-sister sued her in federal court in Florida alleging ten defamatory statements, seven from the book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family written by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, and three statements made by Meghan during the March 2021 CBS televised special with Oprah Winfrey. KHIKS filed a motion to dismiss the entire complaint on the ground that the alleged statements were not defamatory as a matter of law. On February 15, 2023, the Court heard oral argument on the motion. On March 30, 2023, United States District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell issued a 32-page opinion granting KHIKS’s motion to dismiss, which can be found below. With respect to the seven statements from the book Finding Freedom, the Court ruled that “Defendant did not publish the book and Plaintiff cannot plausibly state a claim for defamation based on it.” (Order, p. 16.) As a result, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims arising from the book, with prejudice, “as amendment would be futile.” With respect to the remaining three statements based on Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Court dismissed those claims without prejudice “because Plaintiff has not had an opportunity to amend after an order of the Court analyzing her claims.” (Order, p. 19.) The Court explained that: “Although the Court questions Plaintiff’s ability to state a claim for relief based on this statement, Plaintiff will be given one final opportunity to replead it if she so chooses.” (Id., pp. 19-20.) The Court further stated that “[i]n deciding whether to replead any of the claims relating to the CBS interview, Plaintiff should be mindful of Rule 11, Fed. R. Civ. P.” (Id., p. 20 n.6.)

More information on this case can be found below. To view the Court’s opinion granting KHIKS’s motion to dismiss, click “Download PDF.”