Trump's motion to freeze Summer Zervos' defamation suit denied by appellate court

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 18, 2018

A NY state appeals court on Thursday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's bid to halt a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on his reality TV show "The Apprentice" who accused him of making unwanted sexual advances on her.

"Upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon, it is ordered that the motion is denied", the unsigned order states.

Trump's attorneys have said his remarks were "non-defamatory opinions". "There is no valid reason in this case-in which plaintiff is seeking merely $3,000 in damages and which plaintiff's counsel has repeatedly insisted was brought for political purposes-for the court not to grant the requested stay", he said. Since Trump has yet to do that, and since courts continue to rule in Zervos's favor, the suit continues to be one of many hanging over the president's head.

When Trump also denied Zervos's claim, she filed a lawsuit for defamation three days before his inauguration. Zervos sued Trump for defamation after he denied her accusations, along with those of other women who accused him of unwanted sexual contact before he was elected president.

Judge Jennifer Schechter ruled in March that Trump is not immune from the state court lawsuit.

Trump's legal team, led by Marc E. Kasowitz, wouldn't let this decision slide, and turned to the New York Court of Appeals to put the case on hold.

Kasowitz said that the case raises what the U.S. Supreme Court has called an "important" and unresolved constitutional issue - whether the Constitution's Supremacy Clause bars a state court lawsuit against a president while in office.

"We look forward to proving Ms. Zervos' claim that (the) defendant lied when he maliciously attacked her for reporting his sexually abusive behavior", said her lawyer, Mariann Wang.

Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking to end an agreement in which Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 not to discuss her alleged affair with Trump.

Summer Zervos and her then-attorney Gloria Allred appeared in New York County Criminal Court in December 2017 for a hearing on Zervos's defamation suit against the president. Allred said at the time that her withdrawal had "nothing to do with the merits of [Zervos'] case against President Trump". The suit says Trump's remark, which he transmitted via tweet, suggests Daniels "fabricated the crime and the existence of the assailant, both of which are prohibited under NY law".

Trump now has until next week to file a response to Zervos' complaint and the Trump's legal team has until the end of the month to respond to a broad subpoena that seeks records related to Zervos and other women who have made misconduct allegations against Trump prior to the election.

"This case is going forward", he said.

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