Judge Lets E. Jean Carroll Seek Further Damages Against Trump in Defamation Suit

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
June 14, 2023US News
Judge Lets E. Jean Carroll Seek Further Damages Against Trump in Defamation Suit
(Left) President Donald Trump comes out of the Oval Office from the White House on Sept. 16, 2019. (Right) E. Jean Carroll leaves following her trial at Manhattan Federal Court in New York on May 8, 2023. (Mandel Ngan, Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Tuesday approved a request from E. Jean Carroll to amend the first of her two defamation lawsuits against former President Donald Trump to include comments Trump made about her at a recent televised CNN town hall event.

Carroll, a former magazine columnist, in late May asked to amend the pending defamation lawsuit, filed in November 2019, so she could seek further punitive damages against Trump. The suit is also seeking $10 million in compensatory damages.

“We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously on E. Jean Carroll’s remaining claims,” Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said in a statement after the amendment was approved.

Carroll had won $5 million on May 9 in her second defamation lawsuit—about $3 million for a defamation charge and about $2 million for a civil battery charge. The defamation charge was related to a statement Trump made on Truth Social in October 2022. In the civil battery charge, jurors determined that Trump, now 76, had sexually abused, but did not rape, Carroll, 79.

Trump appeared at a town hall event on CNN on May 10—just a day after the verdict—where he called Carroll a “whack job” and said her claims against him were fake. Carroll in 2019 had accused Trump of having raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996.

Up until Carroll’s request to amend her complaint, her first lawsuit had been put on hold as an appeals court was deciding whether Trump was immune from being sued for remarks he made in 2019, when he was president.

Jury Selection Begins In Magazine Columnist E Jean Carroll S Rape Allegation Trial Against Donald Trump
Magazine Columnist E. Jean Carroll leaves after the first day of her civil trial against former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on April 25, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Trump Lawyers’ Opposition to Carroll’s Motion to Amend

Lawyers for Carroll in the motion to amend had accused Trump of having “doubled down” on derogatory remarks about her.

“Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll since it is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will, or spite,” the lawyers wrote in the complaint, filed on May 22 (pdf).

“This conduct supports a very substantial punitive damages award in Carroll’s favor both to punish Trump, to deter him from engaging in further defamation, and to deter others from doing the same.”

In response, lawyers for Trump on June 5 contended in a memorandum of law (pdf) that Carroll’s motion was “futile” since his comments made at the CNN town hall were “safeguarded by the fair reporting privilege, which consequently prevents them from being used as a foundation to enhance the punitive damages sought by [Carroll] in this case.”

The lawyers were referring to the absolute privilege under Section 74 of the New York Civil Rights Law. It states: “a civil action cannot be maintained against any person, firm or corporation, for the publication of a fair and true report of any judicial proceeding, legislative proceeding or other official proceeding, or for any heading of the report which is a fair and true headnote of the statement published.”

The lawyers said that Trump was addressing a specific question about the jury’s decision on May 9 in Carroll’s second defamation case against him.

“[Trump] neither denied nor misrepresented the jury’s verdict but merely voiced his disagreement with the finding and restated his position— which he had asserted throughout the duration of the proceedings—that the claimed event never happened,” Trump’s legal team wrote. “The average listener would have had no difficulty ascertaining that the comments were made in response to, and in connection with [Carroll’s second defamation case].”

NTD Photo
Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on June 13, 2023. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump Pleads Not Guilty in Separate Historic Federal Case

The federal judge’s decision Tuesday comes as Trump pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Miami in a separate, historic federal case brought by the Department of Justice.

Trump, the 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner, faces 37 felony charges related to his handling of classified government documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after he left office.

“One of the saddest days in the history of our country,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Tuesday while he was on his way to the federal courthouse. “We are a nation in decline!!!”

Trump and his Republican supporters have decried the charges as politically motivated, while others see them as evidence that no one is above the law.

The plea marks the latest step in a years-long legal battle between the DOJ and the former president, one that now has serious implications for the 2024 presidential race, in which Trump is the leading Republican candidate.

Lawrence Wilson contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.