Fiona Harvey, a Scottish woman, has filed a $170 million lawsuit against Netflix. She claims that the character Martha in the streaming giant’s series “Baby Reindeer” is based on her, and the show has significantly damaged her reputation and personal life.

Real life Martha files 0 Million lawsuit against Netflix

Background of Baby Reindeer

Baby Reindeer, released on Netflix in April 2024, is a limited series based on Richard Gadd’s real-life experiences with a stalker in his 20s. Richard, playing a fictionalised version of himself named Donny Dunn, portrays a struggling comedian and bartender who is stalked by a woman named Martha. 

Richard Gadd alleges that the real-life stalker sent him thousands of emails, voicemails, social media messages, and physical gifts, and even followed him to his home, workplace, and comedy performances.

Efforts to Conceal Identity 

Despite Richard Gadd and Netflix’s attempts to alter key details and conceal the real life Martha’s identity, internet users quickly identified Fiona Harvey through her social media interactions with Richard. Both he and actress Jessica Gunning, who plays Martha, requested the public not to speculate about the real-life identities, emphasising that the show was dramatised.

Details of the Legal Action

On June 6, 2024, real life Martha filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accusing Netflix of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and violations of her rights. Her complaint asserts that the series falsely depicts her as a twice-convicted stalker who sexually assaulted Richard Gadd and received a five-year prison sentence, claims she vehemently denies.

Real life Martha seeks legal action worth 0 Million against Netflix

Damages Sought

Fiona Harvey is seeking over $170 million in damages, broken down into:

  • At least $50 million for actual damages.
  • At least $50 million in compensatory damages for mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of business.
  • At least $50 million from the profits of Baby Reindeer.
  • At least $20 million in punitive damages.

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Responses from Netflix and Richard Gadd

Netflix has stated its intention to defend the lawsuit vigorously, supporting Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story. Richard, who has not been named as a defendant, has insisted that significant efforts were made to disguise the identities involved.

Public and Media Reactions

The controversy around real life Martha’s identity gained momentum after she appeared on Piers Morgan’s show, denying the allegations made in the series and indicating her intention to sue. This case draws parallels with Netflix’s recent settlement with Linda Fairstein over her portrayal in the When They See Us docuseries, highlighting the challenges in balancing creative storytelling with respecting personal privacy.

Fiona Harvey’s lawsuit against Netflix over Baby Reindeer underscores the delicate balance between artistic expression and individual privacy rights. As the case proceeds, it is expected to attract continued public and media scrutiny, reflecting broader issues within the entertainment industry.