Netflix Faces $170 Million Lawsuit Over ‘Baby Reindeer’ Defamation Claims

Netflix Faces $170 Million Lawsuit Over ‘Baby Reindeer’ Defamation Claims

(L-R) Nava Mau, Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning attend SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations "Baby Reindeer" at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center in New York City on June 6, 2024. (John Nacion/Getty Images)

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

6/6/2024

Updated: 6/7/2024

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The woman who allegedly inspired the character Martha in the widely popular Netflix drama series “Baby Reindeer” is suing the streaming giant for alleged defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence, over its alleged depiction of her.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by lawyers for Fiona Harvey, 58, also accuses the Los Gatos, California-headquartered company of gross negligence, and violations of her right of publicity.
Ms. Harvey, a Scottish law graduate, is seeking at least $170 million in damages.
Netflix Inc. and Netflix Worldwide Entertainment, LLC are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Ms. Harvey began their lawsuit by pointing to the very first episode of the seven-part series, which aired in April and which is based on a one-man show from comedian and writer Richard Gadd recounting his alleged experience of being stalked and sexually assaulted years ago by a woman named Martha.
The first episode states that the limited series is a “true story.”
“The above quote from the first episode of the Netflix series, Baby Reindeer, is the biggest lie in television history,” her attorneys wrote. “It is a lie told by Netflix and the show’s creator, writer, and comedian Richard Gadd, out of greed and lust for fame; a lie designed to attract more viewers, get more attention, to make more money, and to viciously destroy the life of Plaintiff, Fiona Harvey – an innocent woman defamed by Netflix and Richard Gadd at a magnitude and scale without precedent.”

Netflix Told ‘Brutal Lies’

The lawsuit went on to claim that Netflix told “brutal lies” about Ms. Harvey in the television series, which her lawyers said was watched by over 50 million people worldwide.
Such “lies” include that she is a twice-convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison and that she sexually assaulted Mr. Gadd.
Lawyers for Ms. Harvey said she has never pled guilty to any crime and is not a convicted criminal. They also said she never sexually assaulted or had a sexual encounter with Mr. Gadd.
They also claimed she has never stalked any police officer, as Mr. Gadd had suggested in the show.
“Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,” her lawyers wrote in the lawsuit against Netflix.
Lawyers for Ms. Harvey further claimed that Netflix had failed to confirm the “true story” Mr. Gadd told the streaming giant and failed to use “reasonable care” to determine the truth or falsity of the statements.
“That is, it never investigated whether Harvey was convicted, a very serious misrepresentation of the facts,” attorneys for Ms. Harvey wrote. “It did nothing to understand the relationship between Gadd and Harvey, if any. It did nothing to determine whether other facts, including an assault, the alleged stalking, or the conviction was accurate. It did nothing to understand whether Gadd’s production, which ruined Harvey was accurate.
“As a result of Defendants’ lies, malfeasance, and utterly reckless misconduct, Harvey’s life had been ruined. Simply, Netflix and Gadd destroyed her reputation, her character, and her life.”
Neither Mr. Gadd nor Ms. Harvey’s real names are used in the series.
In this photo illustration a computer and a mobile phone screen display the Netflix logo in Arlington, Va., on March 31, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

In this photo illustration a computer and a mobile phone screen display the Netflix logo in Arlington, Va., on March 31, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Total Strangers’ Found Harvey Online After Show Aired

However, the lawsuit claimed that Ms. Harvey has been harassed by viewers of the show because of Netflix’s alleged failures to protect her identity, with “total strangers” allegedly messaging her on Facebook and calling her, according to her lawyers.
This, they said, has caused their client emotional distress.
Ms. Harvey is seeking at least $50 million for actual damages, $50 million for compensatory damages, $50 million for all profits of the show, and $20 million for punitive damages.
Mr. Gadd is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes shortly after Ms. Harvey identified herself as the woman portrayed as Martha in the series during an interview with Piers Morgan in May.
During that same interview, Ms. Harvey acknowledged she had been in contact with Mr. Gadd via email but denied ever having stalked him or sending him thousands of emails daily, calling claims to the contrary “complete nonsense.”
Neither Netflix nor Mr. Gadd has confirmed the character of Martha was based on Ms. Harvey.
The end credits of “Baby Reindeer” state that the show is “based on real events: however certain characters, names, incidents, locations, and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes.”
Meanwhile, Netflix Policy Chief Benjamin King told the U.K. parliament in May that the streamer and producer Clerkenwell Films had taken “every reasonable precaution in disguising the real-life identities of the people involved in that story.”
The Epoch Times has contacted a spokesperson for Netflix for comment.
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Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts

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Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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