Trump loses latest bid for new E Jean Carroll defamation trial

Earlier this year, a jury determined that Mr Trump had defamed Ms Carroll, with $65m in punitive damages and $18m in compensatory damages

Eric Garcia
Friday 26 April 2024 01:23 BST
Related video: E Jean Carroll vows to give $83m defamation damages to ‘something Trump hates’

Donald Trump’s request to have a new trial in his $83m defamation case with writer E Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexual assault, was denied by a federal court.

Judge Lews Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the motion on Thursday after Mr Trump had sought a fresh trial.

In May 2023, a jury found Mr Trump liable for sexually abusing Ms Carroll. Then, earlier this year, a jury determined that Mr Trump had defamed Ms Carroll, with $65m in punitive damages and $18m in compensatory damages.

In response, Mr Trump posted a $91.6m bond to appeal the verdict against him.

But the court denied Mr Trump’s request in the latest ruling with Judge Kaplan rejecting four parts of the argument put forward by the former president’s lawyers.

Mr Trump’s attorneys had argued that the court could only award punitive damages to Ms Carroll if Mr Trump was motivated solely by a desire to injure her.

“The Court rejects that argument essentially for the reasons stated by Ms. Carroll in her opposition,” the judge wrote.

Mr Trump also argued that he deserved a new case Ms Carroll had to provide “punitive damages by clear and convincing evidence,” which the judge also refuted.

“Thus, the New York law binding this Court is that the standard of proof of punitive damages in defamation cases is the preponderance of the evidence,” he added. “There was no error in the Court’s charge to the jury on this point.”

The court also refuted Mr Trump’s claim that the damages award was “excessive.”

“Contrary to the defendant’s arguments, Ms Carroll’s compensatory damages were not awarded solely for her emotional distress; they were not for garden variety harms; and they were, not excessive,” Judge Kaplan wrote. The judge wrote that Mr Trump’s remarks defaming Ms Carroll were disseminated to more than 100 million people.

“They included public threats and personal attacks, and they endangered Ms Carroll’s health and safety,” Judge Kaplan wrote. “The jury was entitled to conclude that Mr Trump derailed the career, reputation, and emotional well-being of one of America’s most successful and prominent advice columnists and authors — to which she testified repeatedly — and award her$18.3 million in compensatory damages.”

Judge Kaplan also pushed back on questions of constitutionality.

“Far from being purely ‘defensive,’ there was evidence that Mr Trump used the office of the presidency — the loudest ‘bully pulpit’ in America and possibly the world — to issue multiple statements castigating Ms Carroll as a politically and financially motivated liar, insinuating that she was too unattractive for him to have sexually assaulted, and threatening that she would ‘pay dearly’ for speaking out,” the judge wrote.

Robbie Kaplan, Ms Carroll’s attorney who bears no relation to the judge, praised the ruling.

“We are pleased with though not surprised by the Court’s decision today denying Donald Trump’s motions for a new trial and judgment as a matter of law,” she said in a statement. “As the Court explained, it was entirely reasonable for the jury to award E Jean Carroll $83 million in damages given Donald Trump’s continued defamation of Ms Carroll during the trial itself, as well as his conduct in the courtroom where his ‘hatred and disdain [were] on full display.’”

The case ruling comes the same day that the US Supreme Court is hearing a case about whether Mr Trump has immunity from criminal prosecution in relation to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against Mr Trump regarding his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

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