Judge Rules Against Trump in Defamation Case

Published on November 19, 2019 by Athena Pallas

Not only has President Trump lost his latest attempt to stop a defamation lawsuit against him, but one implication of that loss is that Trump now has less than three weeks to meet the deadline for him to give a deposition in the case. The court ruling, made by New York state Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter, denied Trump’s request for a dismissal of the defamation lawsuit brought against him by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos. Zervos’s complaint alleges that Trump has lied about sexually assaulting her and that those lies constitute defamation of her. Zervos alleges that Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007.

The court-imposed deadline for Donald Trump to give a deposition in the case is December 6, just two weeks from this Friday. Now that New York state Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter has denied Trump’s attempt to dismiss the case, it may be more difficult for Trump to avoid giving a deposition, although further appeals from Trump’s side may be forthcoming.

Zervos brought forward the lawsuit last year. The suit, due to appeals, first moved through the appellate court before being brought forward from that court to the New York state Supreme Court in March of this year. All along, in the lower court, the appeals court, and now the New York state Supreme Court, Trump has been unsuccessful in his attempts to get the case dismissed. According to The Hill:

A New York judge on Monday ruled against President Trump as the president’s attorneys seek to block an accuser in a defamation lawsuit from forcing Trump to give a deposition. Court documents obtained by CNN revealed that New York state Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter denied a request from Trump’s attorneys to dismiss a complaint from Summer Zervos, a former “The Apprentice” contestant who claims that the president defamed her by lying about sexually assaulting her. … Trump has denied any non-consensual sexual conduct with Zervos and a number of other women who have accused the president of crimes ranging from unwanted groping to rape. Under a court deadline, the president must be deposed on the lawsuit by Dec. 6. …The case, brought last year, was moved forward by an appellate court in March of 2019 and remains the most successful legal action taken against the president by one of his accusers.

As indicated in the citation above, Zervos is hardly the only woman to accuse Trump on inappropriate sexual contact, ranging as The Hill indicates, “from unwanted groping to rape”. Many of these women have found that enough time has elapsed since the alleged assaults that the statute of limitations would keep them from pursuing criminal charges, leading some of them to seek civil remedies such as Zervos’s lawsuit.

It is not yet clear what will be the next step from Trump’s side – they will almost certainly fight the deposition deadline of December 6 and perhaps seek additional appeals in the case, although the case is already up in the New York state Supreme Court. At some point no further appeals will be possible, but how far off that will be is not yet known.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.