Former President Donald Trump has been ruled liable in a defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, according to a 25-page decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. This ruling is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Trump involving two civil lawsuits filed by Carroll.
In 2019, Carroll publicly accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. In response, Trump called her account a “hoax” and suggested that she was motivated by money. These statements led to the first defamation lawsuit, in which a jury found Trump guilty earlier this year and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.
The current case, set to go to trial in January, involves additional separate statements that Trump made about Carroll while he was president. Based on the outcome of the earlier trial, Judge Kaplan ruled that most of these 2019 statements are defamatory, making Trump liable.
The upcoming trial will solely determine the amount of damages to be awarded, which will be in addition to the $5 million verdict from the prior case. Trump’s legal team has appealed this verdict.
However, judgment was withheld on one of Trump’s 2019 statements, with Judge Kaplan stating that neither party had sufficiently addressed whether summary judgment should be granted or denied in connection to a comment Trump made to The Hill in June 2019.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the outcome of the earlier trial, relating to his 2022 statements, should not determine whether his comments made about Carroll during his presidency were defamatory. The May verdict included a jury award of $2 million in compensatory damages for the sexual abuse claim, $2.7 million in compensatory damages for the defamation claim, and an additional punitive damages award of $228,000.
In response to the latest ruling, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge), stated: “We look forward to a trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made about our client E. Jean Carroll in 2019.” Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, has not responded to requests for comment.