‘Baby Reindeer’s Real-Life Martha Pursues Netflix With $170M Defamation & Negligence Suit

(Updated with Netflix statement) “Sometimes you create such a web of lies that you almost forget what you started running from in the first place.”

That quote from Donny (Richard Gadd) in the second episode of Baby Reindeer just might be on the mind of Netflix on Thursday after the streamer was hit with a $170 million defamation and negligence lawsuit over the widely watched black comedy.

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“This is an action by Plaintiff Fiona Harvey (“Harvey”) against Defendants Netflix, Inc. and Netflix Worldwide Entertainment (collectively “Netflix”), for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence, and violations of Harvey’s right of publicity, arising out of the brutal lies Defendants told about her in the television series, Baby Reindeer,” reads the long-promised suit filed today in federal court in Los Angeles.

Sold as a “true story,” Baby Reindeer, which launched on the streamer April 11, is the raw account of Gadd’s frustrated comedian character’s experience with an alleged stalker. Jessica Gunning stars as that alleged stalker, Martha, who the world learned last month is Harvey, a Scottish lawyer.

'Baby Reindeer's real-life Martha, Fiona Harvey on 'Piers Morgan Uncensored'
‘Baby Reindeer’s real-life Martha, Fiona Harvey, on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’

“The lies that Defendants told about Harvey to over 50 million people worldwide include that Harvey is a twice convicted stalker who was sentenced to five years in prison, and that Harvey sexually assaulted Gadd. Defendants told these lies, and never stopped, because it was a better story than the truth, and better stories made money,” the heavily illustrated 34-page complaint adds.

“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.”

Read the defamation suit here.

Oddly, for all the times he is mentioned in the suit, Gadd himself is not a defendant here, it seems.

“We intend to defend this matter vigorously and to stand by Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story,” a Netflix spokesperson said Thursday a few hours after the legal action, which Harvey has been saying for weeks she intended to pursue, was filed.

Netflix may have taken a beat off the bat to determine how much all this is truly going to cost it. Aiming for injunctive relief, Harvey wants the streamer to pay handsomely for what she sees as its sins. She is seeing more than $170 million, actually, per the breakdown from the jury-trial-seeking filing:

A. Judgment against Defendants for actual damages, the sum to be determined at trial, but is believed to exceed $50 million, exclusive of legal fees, costs and statutory interest; 

B. Judgment against Defendants for compensatory damages in the maximum amount allowed by law, in an amount to exceed $50 million, exclusive of legal fees and costs, including mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of business; 

C. Judgment against Defendants for all profits from Baby Reindeer, in the maximum amount allowed by law, in an amount to exceed $50 million, exclusive of legal fees and costs; 

D. Judgment against Defendants for punitive damages in the maximum amount allowed under law, and believed to exceed $20 million; 

E. Pre-judgment interest at the legally prescribed rate from the date of the violations until judgment as well as post-judgment interest as applicable; 

F. An award of attorneys’ fees. 

G. Such other general relief to Harvey is just entitled.

“I find it horrifying, misogynistic,” Harvey told Piers Morgan in May of the reaction she has experienced in the wake of the series. “Some of the death threats have been really terrible online …You know, it’s been absolutely horrendous.”

Snagging around 60 million views in its first month on Netflix, Baby Reindeer won the Breakthrough Limited Series award this week at the Gotham TV Awards. Either for or against the series, now the awards may be handed out in court.

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