Meghan Markle's ongoing legal battle with paparazzi agency Splash News & Picture Agency is forcing the company to file for bankruptcy. Markle went after them when photos were taken of a "private family outing." However, Markle's case isn't the only reason the company seems to be struggling financially, a number of other issues are playing a role as well, including the pandemic.
"Splash's financial problems stem from three sources," Splash president Emma Curzon stated in a declaration submitted as part of the bankruptcy according to Hollywood Reporter. "As a consequence of the global pandemic the availability of celebrity images has declined and budgets within media companies have been cut to reflect wider macro-economic challenges. This situation has been exacerbated by two ongoing litigation cases and the costs of defending these cases."
Splash News & Picture Agency has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The photos of Markle and her family, including husband Prince Harry, were taken in a park in Canada and at the time a Splash spokesperson said going forward "it will not take unauthorized photographs of the family of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex." The case was reported to have settled but that may not be the current case.
"The case involves free speech related issues under United Kingdom law and, unfortunately, has proven to be too unbearably expensive for Splash to continue its defense," Curzon added. "Furthermore, if the plaintiffs were to prevail in that case it would likely result in a large attorney fee award against Splash. Notwithstanding the merits of the case the company has sought to settle this matter but has been unable to agree [on] a financial settlement within its resources."
The other case that Splash has found itself in involves a former employee. The former account manager, Esmeralda Servin, claims she was subject to sexist remarks at the company on several occasions and also claims she was terminated after bringing up a number of concerns that include illegal bidding and lack of transparency over commission structure.
While the company portraying a defendant's role, it's also gone after a number of A-list celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Liam Hemsworth and Nicki Minaj for copyright cases. Cases such as this brought in just over $118,000 in 2020. However, that is simply not enough to cover the cost of attorney fees. "Attorney bills have drained, and continue to drain, cash from the business," Curzon notes.