The half-sister of the American actress who married a scion of the British royal family is demanding to take the depositions of Prince Harry, royal insiders, and her own estranged family members.
Samantha Markle, who shares father Thomas Markle with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, sued Meghan in March of 2022, claiming that the actress-turned-royal made “false and malicious” statements in her 2020 biography “Finding Freedom.”
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May of 2018. The couple stepped back from royal life in January of 2020, and in 2021, confirmed that they would no longer be “working members” of the royal family. Over the course of several publications and interviews, including a primetime interview with Oprah Winfrey, a Netflix special, and the publication of Harry’s own book “Spare,” Meghan and Harry shared stories of strife, racism, and targeted bullying that contributed to their decision to leave England and move to California.
Meghan discussed her half sister during a 2021 primetime special with Oprah Winfrey, describing herself as an “only child” and saying that she has only seen Samantha Markle sporadically over the course of three decades. Markle also said that a chapter of Meghan’s book, “A Problem Like Samantha,” promoted a “defamatory narrative” about her. Samantha Markle says she has suffered “actual damages” in the from of “lost employment, lost income from sales of her autobiography, emotional and mental distress,” as well as “threatening and violent emails,” and has sued for an undetermined amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
The Duchess has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Samantha Markle’s two motions filed last week offer a glimpse into how discovery, which is the pre-trial process of gathering information after a lawsuit has been filed, is proceeding — or not — in the case. While discovery documents are normally not publicly available in lawsuits, Markle attached discovery requests to her motions to compel. Those exhibits reveal that Meghan objected to Samantha’s discovery requests, arguing that they were inappropriate and noting that Meghan has a motion to dismiss pending before the court.
The plaintiff has asked U.S. District Judge Charlene Vanessa Edwards Honeywell to order Meghan to provide substantive responses to discovery requests. She also wants the judge to force Meghan to “coordinate depositions” of herself, her husband, Meghan and Harry’s former communications secretary Jason Knauf, tech executive Christopher Bouzy, and Markle’s estranged daughter Ashleigh Hale as well as Thomas Markle.
The Duchess, through her lawyers, had objected in part to Markle’s discovery requests because there is no protective order in place that would keep documents sealed. In an email, Meghan’s attorney Michael J. Kump told Samantha’s lawyer Taylor Young in an email on Jan. 5 that most of Markle’s proposed deponents “have no discernible connection” to Meghan’s allegedly defamatory comments.
The “majority of plaintiff’s written discovery requests […] likewise have no connection to plaintiff’s complaint at issue,” Kump says in the email.
Lawyers for Meghan Markle have also filed a motion to stay discovery pending the outcome of the motion to dismiss.
In her motion to compel discovery responses, Samantha Markle says the Duchess of Sussex is “stonewalling” at every turn.
“[G]iven that the Duchess has failed to produce any documents responsive to the First Request for Production nor has she answered one single interrogatory, one single admission, or coordinated one deposition, it is clear that the Duchess’ is willfully withholding evidence and stonewalling discovery,” Markle says.
Lawyers for the Duchess have not yet filed a response to Marlke’s motions. A hearing on Meghan’s motion to dismiss the case is set for Feb. 15.
Read the motions to compel, below:
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