Trump Appeals $83 Million Verdict in Carroll Defamation Case

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
May 15, 2024Donald Trump
Trump Appeals $83 Million Verdict in Carroll Defamation Case
Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the courtroom at the end of the day's proceedings in his criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, N.Y., on May 14, 2024. (Justin Lane - Pool/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump has filed an appeal seeking to overturn the verdict and the $83 million judgment against him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case, in which the former president was sued over statements he made denying her allegations of sexual assault.

Trump attorney John Sauer wrote in a notice of appeal filed on May 15 at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, that the former president is appealing the tens of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages levied against him.

President Trump is also appealing all other adverse orders, rulings, and decisions in the case that were included in both the Feb. 8 final judgment and the April 25 memorandum that denied his request for a new trial and rejected his contention that the outcome was tainted by extreme restrictions on his courtroom testimony and erroneous instructions to the jury.

Ms. Carroll had sued President Trump for defamation over statements he made denying allegations of sexual assault. At the close of his defamation trial in January, a panel of nine jurors ordered President Trump to pay Ms. Carroll $83 million in damages. It broke down as $18.3 million for compensatory damages—which include $11 million to fund a campaign to repair Ms. Carroll’s reputation and $7.3 million for emotional harm—as well as $65 million in punitive damages, according to the Feb. 8 final judgment that the former president is now appealing.

Another part of President Trump’s appeal targets U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s memorandum and opinion issued on April 25. In it, the judge wrote that President Trump’s request for a new trial was “without merit” for the various reasons outlined in Ms. Carroll’s motion of opposition, including that the court properly instructed the jury and did not abuse its discretion in limiting the former president’s testimony.

President Trump’s attorney wrote in the filing that the former president is appealing “all adverse orders, rulings, decrees, decisions, opinions, memoranda, conclusions, or findings preceding, leading to, merged in, or included within the Final Judgment, including the April 25, 2024 Memorandum Opinion (Doc. 338) denying Defendant’s post-trial motions.”

Ms. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, she told Fortune magazine on May 14 that the case against President Trump was “strong” thanks to the “amazing, incredible, unbelievably courageous E. Jean Carroll.”

President Trump has called the verdict “absolutely ridiculous” and a politically-motivated ploy to derail his 2024 presidential comeback bid.


This legal saga stems from a defamation lawsuit Ms. Carroll filed over allegedly defamatory comments President Trump made about her in 2019 when she first publicly accused him of sexual assault.

In 2019, Ms. Carroll accused President Trump of having raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996.

After President Trump denied Ms. Carroll’s allegations in 2019—saying that “she’s not my type”—Ms. Carroll filed a lawsuit accusing the former president of having defamed her. The lawsuit wound its way through state, federal, and appellate courts in New York and Washington, without material consequences.

In 2022, the New York state legislature passed the Adult Survivor Act, which amended state law to give victims of certain sexual offenses a one-year window, beginning on Nov. 24, 2022, to file a civil lawsuit against alleged offenders. Ms. Carroll then filed a second lawsuit on Nov. 24, 2022, under this Act, which went to trial.

On May 9, 2023, Ms. Carroll was awarded $5 million in this second lawsuit: about $3 million for a defamation charge and about $2 million for a civil battery charge.

A day after the verdict—on May 10—President Trump appeared at a town hall event on CNN, where he called Carroll a “whack job” and said her claims against him were fake.

(Left) Former President Donald Trump speaks during the Alabama Republican Party’s 2023 Summer meeting at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel in Montgomery, Ala., on Aug. 4, 2023. (Julie Bennett/Getty Images); (Right) E. Jean Carroll leaves following her trial at Manhattan Federal Court in New York on May 8, 2023. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Subsequently, Ms. Carroll’s attorneys asked to amend her initial defamation lawsuit from 2019 that remained pending so that she could seek further punitive damages against the former president over his town hall remarks.

The trial for Ms. Carroll’s initial defamation lawsuit began on Jan. 16 and concluded on Jan. 26, with the final judgment entered on Feb. 8.

After the trial ended, President Trump vowed to appeal, while lodging several attempts for a new trial.

Trial Outcome ‘Infected’ by Errors

In a series of court filings on March 5, including a motion asking Judge Kaplan to grant a new trial or alter or amend the $83 million judgment against him, President Trump’s attorneys argued that the outcome of the trial was “infected” by the judge’s errors.

“The trial’s outcome was infected by two related errors: The exclusion of President Trump’s testimony about his own state of mind, which was highly relevant to the issue of common-law malice; and the erroneous jury instruction on the definition of common-law malice,” Trump attorneys wrote in a memorandum in support of their motion. They argued that either of these errors is serious enough to render the jury verdict tainted and justifies his request for a new trial.

Trump’s attorneys wrote in the memo that the trial-court proceedings didn’t comply with the definition of common-law malice in multiple ways that were prejudicial. One of these was by prohibiting President Trump from expressing the view that he believed that the statements he made about Ms. Carroll were true.

In another motion filed on March 5, President Trump’s attorneys argued that the court should grant judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Ms. Carroll allegedly failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove her case as regards the legitimacy of damages.

In her motion of opposition, Ms. Carroll argued that the jury’s compensatory and punitive damages were not excessive and that the court’s actions were sound.

Judge Kaplan sided with Ms. Carroll in his April 25 decision to reject the former president’s request.

The judge upheld the constitutionality of the $65 million punitive damages award, arguing that there was evidence the former president used the office of the presidency, which he called “the loudest ‘bully pulpit’ in America,” to “destroy” her credibility, “punish” her for coming forward with her allegations, and “deter other women from doing so as well.”

He also upheld the $18.3 million compensatory damages award, finding that President Trump’s critical remarks with respect to Ms. Carroll were disseminated to more than 100 million people and endangered her health and safety.

From The Epoch Times

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