Netflix Sued By “Real Martha”

By Chanak Maduranga

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Netflix Sued By “Real Martha”
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Netflix has been sued over its portrayal of a woman depicted as a stalker in Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in California federal court, Fiona Harvey, who claims to be the inspiration behind Jessica Gunning’s Martha, accuses Netflix of defaming her through statements in the show that she’s a twice-convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison for sexual assault. The streamer and showrunners “told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit, which seeks injunctive relief, seeks at least $120 million, including the streamer’s profits from the series. It brings claims for defamation, negligence and violations of right of publicity law.

Baby Reindeer follows Gadd’s Donny Dunn, a struggling comedian who encounters Martha at the bar where he works. Marta is then revealed to be a dangerous, serial stalker. Over the course of multiple years, she sent him more than 41,000 emails, 744 tweets, 100 pages of letters and 350 hours of voicemails.

The lawsuit alleges Netflix “did literally nothing” to confirm statements in the series, which is represented as a true story, concerning Harvey.

“It never investigated whether Harvey was convicted, a very serious misrepresentation of the facts,” the complaint states. “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.”

The series depicts Martha as a convicted criminal who spent five years in prison for stalking Gadd and another woman. She’s also shown to stalk a policeman and sexually assault Gadd.

Harvey says she’s never been convicted of any crime. She denies stalking or assaulting Gadd, physically or sexually.

Notably, Harvey’s real name wasn’t used in the series, which may prove an obstacle to substantiating defamation.

The filing of the complaint follows Netflix settling a defamation lawsuit filed by Linda Fairstein, an ex-prosecutor who sued over her portrayal in When They See Us. Under the deal, the company agreed to move a disclaimer from the end credits to the beginning of each episode.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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